ZOOMER Magazine


Peter Muggeridge

- IthCOVID-19

causing such massive health, social and economic convulsion­s, the demand for charity is at an all-time high. But in one of this pandemic’s many bitter paradoxes, a steep drop in donations means many organizati­ons can’t fulfill their missions.

Amid so much economic anxiety, it’s no surprise many Canadians are tightening their belts and cutting down on discretion­ary spending.

“You can’t give to charity when you’ve lost your job and your financial security is up in the air,” concedes Kate Bahen, managing director of Charity Intelligen­ce, a Toronto-based group that analyzes how charities use our donations.

Meanwhile, lockdowns, physical distancing measures and stay-athome orders have cancelled lucrative fundraisin­g events like walks, galas and door-to-door campaigns and, although charities supporting arts, culture, recreation and sport were hit the hardest, the Cancer Society and Heart and Stroke Foundation have also had to scale back on staff and services as the number of people requiring food banks, mental health assistance and domestic abuse shelters is way up.

“It’s a bad math equation for charitable organizati­ons,” says Bruce MacDonald, CEO of Imagine Canada, a national group that lobbies the federal government on behalf of charities. “They’re simply not keeping pace.”

From big corporatio­n-backed national health organizati­ons to small local volunteer-run outfits, all rely on a business model that’s largely based on our ability – and willingnes­s – to give. In normal years, we are happy to oblige – to the tune of $17 billion.

According to most recent Canada Revenue Agency figures, in 2018 five million of us claimed a charity tax credit, contributi­ng nearly $10 billion in donations to 86,000 registered charities. On top of that, we give another $7 billion in cash donations to various fundraiser­s (such as the Salvation Army “kettle” campaigns, bidding on silent auctions, subscribin­g to seats at the orchestra or renewing our “Y” membership­s) that we don’t claim on taxes.

After a bruising year marked by declining donations and an embarrassi­ng scandal, charity groups are hoping Canadians return to their generous ways. reports

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada