‘We’re all in a pinch:’ Study shows charitable giving has dropped by one-third over last decade


WATCH: It’s getting more challenging for local non-profits as charitable giving declines. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

With five days left to go until Christmas, volunteers at The Mustard Seed have already filled more than 6,000 food hampers.

“It’s been very busy and very hectic,” said Janiene Boice with the Mustard Seed.

While the need is up, overall donations have been down this year.

Boice said by August of this year, donations were down by 23 per cent.

“There was also a 30 per cent increase of people that needed food hampers,” Boice explained.

They aren’t the only charity feeling the pinch.

A new study released Thursday by the Fraser Institute says the percentage of income that Canadians donate to registered charities each year has plummeted by 32 per cent since 2006.

“Canadians continue to donate less and less every year, which means charities face greater challenges to help those in need this holiday season and throughout the year,” said Jason Clemens with the Fraser Institute.

The study also found that one-in-five Canadian tax-filers, around 20 per cent, claimed charitable donations on their tax return in 2016.

That’s a decline of nearly 17 per cent over the last decade.

The decline in charitable giving has been felt by other non-profits on Vancouver Island like the Salvation Army.

“Our Christmas campaign is down this year by about $85,000,” said Patricia Mamic with the Salvation Army. “Our goal is about $225,000 and we’re not quite there yet.”

Mamic says the reason for a decline in donations is not always clear.

“It’s hard to know why people aren’t giving as much,” Mamic explained. “We do know the cost of living has gone up substantially and the wages are not consistent with that.”

As well as growing competition for the charitable dollar.

“We’re all feeling the pinch,” Boice said. “We also all have to choose where to give.”

Experts say there are financial and tax incentives for giving.

“You’ll get 43 per cent back of any donation over $200 that you give to a registered charity,” explained Travis Koivul with Island Savings. “So it really costs you less than you think.”

Despite the decline in recent years, the spirit of giving is around every corner.

At Our Place in Victoria on Thursday, Gordy Dodd and his team hosted a Christmas dinner for those in need.

“We’ve done this every year for the last 20 years,” said Dodd. “We feed more than 1,000 people ever year.”

Dodd hopes that others will find it in them to give too.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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