VANCOUVER, BC—Fewer Canadians are donating to registered charities, and they are giving less, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.
The study, Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2013 Generosity Index, measures donations to registered charities claimed on personal income tax returns in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, the 50 U.S. states, and Washington, D.C.
“There’s been a downward trend in the proportion of Canadians donating to registered charities and the share of income they donate. This decline in charitable giving limits the ability of Canada’s private charities to serve those in need,” said Charles Lammam, study co-author and resident scholar in economic policy at the Fraser Institute.
The study finds that 25.1 per cent of Canadian tax filers claimed a charitable donation in 2005. That number dropped each subsequent year, bottoming out at 22.5 per cent in 2009, before rising slightly to 22.9 in 2011 (the most recent year of available data).
Furthermore, Canadians gave 0.81 per cent of their combined income to registered charities in 2006. Except for a slight uptick in 2010, that percentage dropped every subsequent year to 0.64 per cent in 2011.
“Had Canadians donated in 2011 at the same rate as 2006, Canada’s charities would have received an additional $2.3 billion in private donations in 2011, for a potential total of $11.1 billion,” Lammam said.
Among the provinces, Manitoba remains the most generous.
“Despite the overall decline in charitable giving, for 15 consecutive years Manitoba has led the provinces in the Fraser Institute’s analysis of private charitable giving,” Lammam said.
In 2011, Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers (25.9 per cent) donating to charity while New Brunswick (20.7 per cent) had the lowest.
Manitobans also gave the most to charity at 0.89 per cent of their combined income in 2011. Quebecers donated the least compared to other provinces at 0.30 per cent, less than half the national average of 0.64 per cent.
In terms of the average dollar value of donations, which does not factor into the overall index, Alberta ranks first with an average donation of $2,321 while Quebec ranks last with $655 as the average donation. The national average was $1,519.
The study also compares charitable giving in Canada to the U.S. As in previous years, Canadians lag behind their American counterparts. In 2011, 26.0 per cent of American tax filers donated to charity compared to 22.9 per cent of Canadians. Similarly, Americans gave a substantially higher percentage (1.33 per cent) of their income to charity than Canadians (0.64 per cent).
Comparing the overall Generosity Index scores across all 64 Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions, Utah tops the list. Manitoba, in 35th place, remains the highest ranked Canadian jurisdiction while Alberta and Saskatchewan tied for 45th, Ontario and Prince Edward Island tied for 47th, followed by British Columbia (51st), Nova Scotia (54th), New Brunswick (57th), Newfoundland & Labrador (58th), Quebec (59th), Yukon (60th), Northwest Territories (63rd) and Nunavut (last of 64).