The Holiday Giving Season: A Make or Break Time for Small Charities

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The holidays are a time for giving thanks. For many Canadians, this involves sharing their gifts, and giving charitably to causes, helping to create a stronger, more caring Canada. At CanadaHelps, we consistently receive 36% of annual charitable donations in December, and over 5% on December 31st alone.

As December approaches, I am both excited and apprehensive. I am excited to see the generosity of Canadians who year after year show that they think giving back matters. I am apprehensive as I think of how individual organizations may fare. Which ones will emerge stronger? Which ones will struggle to keep their doors open in 2016?

In particular, I think of small charitable organizations. Did you know that 80% of registered charities in Canada are small, with annual revenue of less than $500,000? That’s a mere 2.7% of total charitable revenue that goes to these small organizations.


Having been in both the situation of needing charitable support when health challenges struck my family and having personally visited hundreds of small charities across Canada through my work at CanadaHelps, I know first hand that small charities address critical needs and create stronger local, national and global communities. They are small in size but enormous in impact.

A charitable donation is an investment. It’s an investment in our future. Are you strategic about your giving? Here are a few things I encourage you to consider as you prepare to make your year-end donations.

What size charities do I typically support?  Should I adjust my mix to support an array of small, medium and large sized charities? What is the right balance for me in terms of support for charities serving my community versus at-risk communities in my city, country or abroad?

What types of charities do I support?  Would adding another type of charity to my mix better reflect my values? From social services, religious and health charities, to arts, education and environmental charities, there are diverse organizations in Canada that need your support.

What ways can I support charities?  We now have more ways to give. Canadians are increasingly answering the call of charities to provide regular, predictable support. Monthly gifts now represent 23% of total donations facilitated by CanadaHelps. Likewise, more Canadians are taking advantage of our progressive tax policies related to gifts of securities and mutual funds. Exempt from capital gains tax, donating a security that has grown in value results in a larger gift  for the charity and a larger tax receipt for the donor than a cash gift.

Which organizations do I think are the best return for my investment?  Consider evaluating less on administration ratios. Increasingly, charities are speaking in terms of impact and reporting on their outcomes, providing Canadians with improved indicators for assessing where to invest their charitable donation dollars.

There are so many organizations in Canada doing great work – work that people don’t always hear about. This holiday season, take the time to evaluate your charitable giving mix and consider visiting to discover a new charity or cause you are passionate about.


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2 Responses to “The Holiday Giving Season: A Make or Break Time for Small Charities”

  1. lorne perry

    Have worked on various worthy projects. Presently trying to see adequate housing and adequate care for ASD people in Nova Scotia. In order to buy median exposure I must be registered as a charitable organization. That is me immediate goal. I have utilized facebook and simple site. goal

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  2. E. F.

    Thank you / merci for this important information regarding the categories and sizes of Canadian charities. On this occasion, I intentionally chose the Shining Light Ministries ( based in the Balkans ) with their financial needs in mind. God Bless Rev. Slobodan Krstevski, and his wife, Ljiljana, and their family’s Mission and TV broadcasts.

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