Charities and nonprofits must lessen reliance on aging, affluent donors, report finds

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The long-term viability of Canada’s charitable sector depends on higher donation rates among younger and new Canadians, according to a study released today by the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF) in partnership with Imagine Canada. The report, titled 30 Years of Giving in Canada, examines charitable donations and giving patterns from 1985 to 2014. The study finds donors aged 50 and older account for nearly three quarters (74%) of all donations, while those 70 and older make up 30% of gifts. The research also reveals donations are declining across all age categories and the pool of older Canadians giving higher donations is shrinking. Key findings related to the future of philanthropy:

  • New citizens tend to give more than native-born citizens. The average donation by a naturalized citizen is $672 compared to $509 among those born in Canada.
  • Giving by non-citizens is also significant. Among the 75% of non-citizens who give annually, the average donation is $450.
  • New Canadians prioritize slightly different causes. They are more likely to give to religious organizations, international relief and hospitals as well as causes related to law, advocacy and politics.
  • As barriers to giving, young Canadians are more likely to cite not being asked to give more and not knowing where to donate. They also express higher levels of trust their gift will be used effectively and efficiently.
  • Women have steadily gained ground as a percentage of donors since 1985 due to increased workforce participation and rising incomes. In 2014, 41% of all donors were women. Based on past giving trends, this donation share will accelerate as more women achieve income parity with men.

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