Canadians re-evaluate how they support charities amidst financial concerns

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April 2023

A new study by Sage has found that Canadian donors and volunteers are re-evaluating how they would like to support charities in face of personal or family’s financial health concerns.

The annual Grow Together Report – conducted by Léger – surveyed 1,004 Canadian donors and volunteers in March 2023 to understand how the current economic volatility is affecting charitable giving in Canada and how nonprofits can drive higher donor and volunteer engagement. The survey found, economic uncertainty is having a significant impact on donors and volunteers plans to give back in 2023, including:

  • Two-thirds (63%) of Canadian donors and volunteers are concerned about their personal or family’s financial health in the next 12 months, with 17% being very concerned.
  • More than a third (39%) will stop or reduce their charitable donations in the next 12 months.
  • More than a quarter (26%) will either stop volunteering, reduce their volunteer hours, or keep volunteering but support fewer charities in the next 12 months.

While Canadians are concerned with the current economic uncertainty, their support for charitable causes remains strong, but they are choosing to engage differently. The survey found that 69% of respondents, across all age groups, said they are likely to support charitable causes through shopping at a business or brand that donates a portion of the sales to charities. Additionally, 60% of respondents said they are likely to support charitable causes by signing a petition to advocate for a charitable cause, with the younger generation sharing more enthusiasm – 68% age 18 – 34 and 63% age 35 – 54.

Driving Donor Support

Given the economic uncertainty and shifting giving behaviours, Canadians are becoming more strategic and expecting more transparency with the nonprofits they choose to support. The survey found that supporters are paying close attention to charities’ efficiencies and how they are being engaged digitally as a criterion to earn their support:

  • 86% of respondents said they are more likely to donate to a charity if they know the charity is operating efficiently.
  • 83% think charities with up-to-date web sites, digital processes and communications can make it easier for donors and volunteers to give back.
  • 73% of respondents believe charities that are taking advantage of available technologies are operating more efficiently.
  • 66% support the use of automation technologies to reduce overhead costs.
  • 66% are more willing to donate if they can manage their donations online.

In addition to improving efficiencies and digital engagement, Canadians are expecting  businesses (63%) and governments (57%) to do more. More women are holding this belief (67% for corporate support and 62% government support) than men (59% businesses and 52% government support). Additionally, individuals aged 18-34 (65%) feel that governments should be stepping up to support charities compared to those aged 55 and over (50%).

Furthermore, 37% of respondents want businesses to increase their donations / sponsorships to support charities’ programs and / or operations. While a quarter (26%) want businesses to lend their expertise as well as financial support to improve charities operations and technologies to achieve better efficiencies.

Building a Corporate Culture Around Giving Back

In addition to helping to close the giving gap, there are added benefits to corporations to increase their support for charitable causes. The survey found organizations can strengthen their corporate culture by supporting charitable causes. Two-thirds of Canadians (66%) would feel more proud of their employer if they are offered opportunities to give back to charities with colleagues. Additionally, 62% would feel a stronger sense of belonging if their employer offers opportunities to give back to charities with my colleagues.

To read the full 2023 Grow Together report, click here

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