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Imagine Canada

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Top 5 tips for strategic giving to charities this Holiday Season

Monday, November 30, 2015

Nothing brings out the generosity of Canadians like the holiday season, but when it comes to giving, the choice isn’t always easy.

You want to make a donation that matters but in the flurry of the season it can become overwhelming. There are so many causes to support and everyone has a different idea about how you should be giving. When did doing good become so complicated!? Have no fear, because it doesn’t need to be.

Here are our top 5 strategies to help you plan your holiday giving:

#5. Focus on impact, not overhead

Evaluating or ranking a charity solely on how much it spends on overhead can be misleading. The bottom line on effectiveness is what the organization accomplishes, not necessarily what it spends on infrastructure or fundraising. Wise spending and being accountable and transparent are important criteria, but we need to remember that without investment, services would be impossible to deliver – real impact requires real investment.

#4. Model giving for your children, peers

Nothing builds a child or teenager’s character like helping people in need. By engaging your children and even peers in your philanthropic activities and priorities, you pay forward the spirit of giving and generate long-term momentum for support of charities. Research shows clearly that many people give because philanthropy was modelled for them by their parents. Inspiring young people to give back is fundamental to building strong, caring communities.

#3. Leadership matters

A charity’s success is always linked to how well it is led and managed. Strong leadership, efficient administration and good governance are key qualities to look for when evaluating a charity. One important sign of sound management is accreditation by a third party. Some are eligible for accreditation for a specific type of work, such as health care, but all charities can be accredited through Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. This initiative involves rigorous peer review of board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement. Although the program is relatively new, 160 charities display this program’s Trustmark and many more are going through the process.

#2. Be flexible about donation amounts

Research shows that donations have been generally flat for the past five years. This is a serious challenge because costs facing charities continue to grow. People begin supporting charities in their youth even if they don’t have a lot of resources, but their giving often does not to grow along with their income. Part of a sound giving strategy is being flexible about the size of your gift and basing the amount on what you can afford.

#1. Align your gift with your passion

When making a donation, consider the sort of world you want to build. Ally yourself with charitable organizations that reflect your ideals and invest in the future you want to see unfold. Charities welcome dialogue, so connect and communicate. Even better, volunteer.

This holiday season about 60% of Canadian adults are expected to donate approximately $5 billion between now and the end of the year. That’s a lot of gingerbread! Happy holiday giving!

Visit imaginecanada.ca for a complete listing of accredited charities along with a comprehensive Guide to Giving to help with charitable decision-making.


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