Canadian generosity hits lowest point in 20 years

Some serious cheese and smiles at Boston Pizza with Valentine's Day Charity raising
Some serious cheese and smiles at Boston Pizza with Valentine's Day Charity raising

VANCOUVER – The number of Canadians donating to charity—as a percentage of all tax filers—is at the lowest point in 20 years, finds a new study published by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“The holiday season is a time to reflect on charitable giving, and the data shows Canadians are consistently less charitable every year, which means charities face greater challenges to secure resources to help those in need,” said Jake Fuss, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute and co-author of Generosity in Canada: The 2022 Generosity Index.

The study finds that the total amount donated by Canadians during the 2020 tax year—just 0.49 per cent of income—is the lowest amount since at least 2000. Canadians’ generosity peaked at 0.72 per cent in 2006, before declining in subsequent years.

Nationally, the percentage of Canadian tax filers donating to charity has fallen from 25.5 per cent in 2000 to 19.1 per cent in 2020.

The study finds that Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers that donated to charity among the provinces (20.6 per cent) during the 2020 tax year while Newfoundland & Labrador had the lowest (16 per cent).

Likewise, Manitoba also donated the highest percentage of its aggregate income to charity among the provinces (0.73 per cent) while Quebec donated the lowest (0.24 per cent).

“A smaller proportion of Canadians are donating to registered charities than what we saw in previous decades, and those who are donating are donating less,” said Fuss.

“This decline in generosity in Canada undoubtedly limits the ability of Canadian charities to improve the quality of life in their communities and beyond.”

Generosity of Canadian provinces and territories

(ranking in 2022 Generosity Index)
% of tax filers who claimed charitable donations Average dollar value of all charitable donations % of aggregate income donated to charity
Manitoba 20.6 $2,398 0.73
Ontario 19.0 $2,400 0.60
Quebec 18.7 $840 0.24
Prince Edward Island 18.5 $1,567 0.47
Alberta 17.7 $2,883 0.61
British Columbia 17.7 $2,752 0.64
Saskatchewan 17.6 $2,065 0.50
Nova Scotia 17.0 $1,614 0.43
New Brunswick 16.1 $1,633 0.44
Newfoundland and Labrador 16.0 $1,186 0.30
Yukon 15.1 $1,756 0.26
Northwest Territories 11.4 $2,145 0.21
Nunavut 6.0 $2,320 0.14

NOTE: Table based on 2020 tax year, the most recent year of comparable data in Canada

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