A CHARITABLE RECESSION
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