CanadaHelps, the country’s largest platform for donating and fundraising online, has released the 2021 Giving Report, an annual report that provides an in-depth, data-driven look at the state of Canada’s charitable sector. Since the onset of the pandemic, the charitable sector has experienced significant challenges, including a projected decline in overall donations. There are, however, positive signs as 2020 saw a striking increase in online giving as well as newly engaged donors supporting environmental, Indigenous, and social justice charities. These were among key findings in the 2021 Giving Report, the fourth edition of the comprehensive study that examines the charitable sector and its impact on Canada. The Giving Report is available for download here.
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For the first time, CanadaHelps developed a projection to understand the impact of the pandemic on total giving, and is projecting that overall charitable giving declined by 10%, falling to 2016 levels. This projection uses all available data from the Canada Revenue Agency going back to 2007, as data reporting on 2020 giving is not anticipated to be made available until late 2022. In contrast, online donations continued to accelerate at record rates. In 2020, 1.1 million Canadians donated more than $480 million online through CanadaHelps, more than double the amount donated online in 2019.
“It is clear that while the sector is struggling with circumstances beyond its control, online donations have been critical to keeping charities afloat,” said Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps. “What is especially encouraging is the growing interest we are seeing in supporting smaller, local charities and social causes.”
Findings also show a distinct giving gap between age groups. As seen in previous Giving Reports, Canadians aged 55 and older are giving at twice the rate of younger Canadians. However, in comparison, younger people donated more to social justice-related Cause Funds such as CanadaHelps’ Black Solidarity Fund that represents 70 charities supporting the advancement of Black Canadians. Introduced in 2020, Cause Funds are a new approach to giving, enabling donors to support a cause they care about by easily making a single donation to support a group of registered charities collectively working towards the same cause.
“Young people have been moved to donate in response to social and racial justice movements. Their drive to donate is influenced by a particular cause — often pressing social issues — and not by a specific charity,” Glogovac said. “These new donors are culturally diverse, educated, reside in cities, and are comfortable donating online.”
Other noteworthy findings include:
- Across the country, charities activated programs in response to the pandemic, and Canadians responded generously with significant increases in donations to hospitals, frontline healthcare workers, and health services. This includes donations of $5.1 million to approximately 630 charities responding to the pandemic through two of CanadaHelps’ Cause Funds, the Healthcare and Hospital Fund and the Community Care Fund.
- The top charitable categories in terms of fastest growth in online giving included charities supporting Indigenous Peoples, social services, and health.
- While charities supporting Indigenous Peoples saw the fastest online growth of any category in 2020, it continues to receive the lowest volume of donations.
- Online donations to environmental charities saw the fastest growth in the category in four years.
The Giving Report 2021 was conducted by CanadaHelps in partnership with Environics Analytics. It features the Online Giving Index (OGI), which was first introduced in the 2020 report. Last year, 1.1 million Canadians, representing a good sample size of Canada’s population of approximately 3%, donated more than $480 million through CanadaHelps. This giving data provides a baseline for the OGI.
Since the declaration of the pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020, the OGI shows online giving accelerating suddenly in nine of 10 charitable categories at the fastest rate in four years.
“As many organizations across Canada have been hit hard by the pandemic, including not-for-profit and charitable organizations, it is encouraging to see younger generations such as millennials and Generation Z take action and speak out, while also leaning in with their wallets to give online,” said Allen Davidov, Senior Vice President & Practice Leader at Environics Analytics. “While the giving gap continues between older and younger demographics, the response of new, younger donors to innovative new giving vehicles that reflect the causes they care about brings new hope.”
“Online giving has proved to be a saving grace for charities during the pandemic,” Glogovac said. “Many charities have focused on online fundraising and will continue to do so as they respond to increased needs during the pandemic, recovery, and as they further realize the advantages digital offers in both operational efficiencies and attracting and engaging donors.”
CanadaHelps is a charitable foundation working to increase giving in Canada through technology. CanadaHelps.org, provides a safe and trusted one stop destination for making donations, fundraising, or learning about any charity in Canada. The organization also develops affordable fundraising technology and provides free training and education for charities so that, regardless of size, all charities have the capacity to increase their impact and succeed in the digital age. More than 2.9 million Canadians have donated over $1.7 billion to charities using CanadaHelps since its founding in 2000. For additional information, visit CanadaHelps.org or connect with CanadaHelps on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.