23% of Canadians now rely on charities to meet essential needs

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May 2023

CanadaHelps published the findings from a new Ipsos poll that reveals 23% of Canadians are currently accessing charitable services to meet essential needs such as food, clothing, or shelter; this is expected to increase to 26% within six months. The alarming number of Canadians expecting to turn to charity represents a four-point increase since last fall. The poll also reveals that among those Canadians who are expecting to use essential charitable services in the next six months, 62% of them say they can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, ultimately resulting in charities facing unprecedented new strains on their operations and pressure to meet growing demand.

Key Findings from the Ipsos Poll

  • Women (27%) are significantly more likely to say they will need to use charitable services to get by, up 9 points from fall 2022, while men are slightly less likely to need help (25%, -2%).
  • Significantly more Canadians aged 18-34 (38%, +3%) and 35-54 (30%, +4%) are likely to require charitable services in the near future than those ages 55+ (14%, +4%) compared to fall 2022.
  • Canadians with household incomes below $40K a year (46%) are most in need, up 11 percentage points from fall 2022, while those earning $40K to $60K (18%, -9%) are less likely to rely on these services.
  • Three in ten (29%) parents expect to access charitable services in the coming year, up +2% since fall 2022.
  • Canadians who say they are most likely to access charitable services are unable to work due to mental or physical illness (59%), work multiple parttime jobs (43%), or are currently searching for work (40%).
  • Others who are likely to access charitable services are facing addiction (8%), are fleeing domestic violence (7%), or say they need these services for some other reason (15%).

Regional Findings from the Ipsos Poll

  • Regionally, since 2022, demand for charitable services to support essential needs has increased in Ontario (32%, +14%) and British Columbia (21%, +3%), but decreased in Alberta (27%, -3%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (25%, -2%), Quebec (22%, -4%), and Atlantic Canada (20%, -5%).

According to The Giving Report 2023 released last month, more than 30% of charities are reporting revenue below pre-pandemic levels and 57% of charities are reporting that they are unable to meet current levels of demand.

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