Fraser Forum

Charitable giving on the wane in New Brunswick

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Charitable giving on the wane in New Brunswick

This holiday season, many New Brunswickers will spend their time and money giving back to charitable causes. In fact, every year, tens of thousands of residents in the province donate to charities. However, according to a new study by the Fraser Institute, both the percentage of tax-filers donating and the share of income donated to charity are on the decline.

Using data compiled by Statistics Canada, the study reveals a long-term decline. In 2008, the share of tax-filers donating was 22.1 per cent, but has since steadily declined to 17.9 per cent in 2017 and reached a new low in 2018 (the latest year of available data) at 17.4 per cent.

In addition to a declining proportion of tax-filers making charitable contributions, the amount of those contributions is also in decline. Between 2008 and 2018, the share of personal income in New Brunswick that went toward charitable contributions declined by 18.5 per cent. Among residents who donated to charity in 2018, the average annual contribution was equal to only 0.45 per cent of their household income.

These trends are not unique to New Brunswick. According to the study, charitable giving is on the decline across Canada. Both the proportion of people donating and the size of donations have decreased in every province over the last decade. However, the Atlantic provinces rank near the bottom in charitable giving data. In terms of the percentage of tax-filers donating, New Brunswick is tied for last among provinces, while the province’s share of income donated ranks fourth-last.

In total, just over 104,000 New Brunswickers made charitable contributions in 2018, down from 125,670 in 2008.

Admittedly, generosity is a difficult concept to measure. The data reported here are gleaned from tax-filing data from the province, and many contributions of time and money are made without being reported on a tax return. However, the data reveal a clear trend toward less giving.

There are also many organizations doing good work for charitable causes in the province. According to the website, there are more than 2,700 registered charities in New Brunswick. However, the data mentioned above inevitably mean that these groups have less funds available to support their respective missions. Consequently, vulnerable New Brunswickers may lack adequate access to essential services such as foodbanks, shelter spaces for domestic violence victims and mental health counselling.

Unfortunately, the rapid decline in charitable giving in recent decades means Canadian charities are increasingly strapped for resources and face larger financial obstacles when trying to improve the quality of life for Canadians in need. Let’s hope this holiday season, and into the new year, these troubling trends turn around.

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