Canadians show their generous side on Giving Tuesday

Stacey Berger works at the New Toronto Street Food Bank. (CBC)

After the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Canadians came out in droves to help out others on the biggest charitable giving day of the year.

Now in its fifth year in Canada, Giving Tuesday is the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend shopping frenzy that encourages people to make donations to charities of their choice. One of the major proponents of the event in Canada, online donation platform CanadaHelps.org, says they had a record number of donations made through the site.

“After people have been out there racing around shopping, Giving Tuesday really puts them back in the giving mindset,” says Shannon Craig, Chief Marketing Officer and Product Officer at Canada Helps.

A recent report from Canada Helps found that after accounting for inflation, Canadians claim seven per cent less in donations on their tax returns than they did 10 years ago, a drop of roughly $600 million in charitable giving.

But Giving Tuesday remains a high point in the giving season for many charities. It often marks the start of charitable gifts for many people, as 35 per cent of all donations during the year happen in the month of December.

While there are no Canada-wide stats available yet for yesterday’s event, Canada Helps saw just shy of 10,000 one-time gifts made on Giving Tuesday 2017, including 4,590 new donors, marking a 15 per cent increase over the previous year. Canada Helps offers a donation platform to more than 6,000 charity partners, but does not include some of the bigger charities that have their own donation platforms, like the Canadian Red Cross.

Canada Helps also saw a jump in the number of people signed up to be monthly donors, too. Compared to the same day in 2012 (before Giving Tuesday launched in Canada), Canada Helps saw a 564 per cent jump in monthly donor sign-ups on Nov. 28.

“Monthly giving can be great for a donor because it helps to avoid the holiday financial crunch, but it also helps charities have a predictable revenue stream,” explains Craig.

Financial donations are also only one way of marking Giving Tuesday.

“Because Giving Tuesday is such a grassroots movement, we’re asking Canadians to do whatever it is they can to do something charitable,” Craig says.

Last year, of the 6.2 million Canadians who contributed in Giving Tuesday, 3.5 million of them did it through a monetary donation. Many people instead opt to donate to a food bank, donate clothes, donate blood, volunteer at a community organization or sign up to be an organ donor instead of making a monetary contribution.

The number of people who donate their money and time on Giving Tuesday is even more remarkable when you consider how little marketing goes into the event itself.

“There’s really not much money behind the program,” says Craig.

In addition to the millions of Canadians who talked about Giving Tuesday on social media, it’s also been made a high-profile event in cities across Canada. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi first declared Giving Tuesday an official day in the city in 2013, and this year, Mayor Jim Watson of Ottawa did the same.

While Giving Tuesday always sees a high volume of charitable donations, Craig says that the biggest donation days are yet to come.

“The last day of the year, many people turn to online because of the tax deadline, and the benefit of getting a tax receipt right away,” he explains.

On the Canada Helps platform, 10 per cent of all donations for the year are made in the last three days, and the last day of the year sees five per cent of all gifts for the year.

If you haven’t made a donation before, or have never claimed donations on your taxes before, now is the time to do it. This is the last year that Canadians can claim the first-time donor tax credit, a 25 per cent credit for up to $1,000 of charitable giving.

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