Eliminating hunger and poverty. Curing diseases. Building a just society.
These are just some of the big, audacious goals that charities are trying to tackle within Canada and around the world. These goals are lofty enough, then you throw in a global pandemic and this proposition becomes exponentially more difficult. Charities across the sector are reporting revenues down markedly, with significant layoffs in progress – and more on the horizon. The size and scope of these shifts is beyond anything that we have seen before, far exceeding what we saw in the 2008/2009 financial downturn and with such broad effects even the most diversified revenue bases are seriously affected.
But much like gazing up from the base of a mountain and imagining the climb to its peak, achieving these goals can seem like impossible tasks. And indeed, they can be if we focus only on our own capabilities or push ahead without a strategy for giving.
Across the country, charities are modifying existing programs, developing new ones, and implementing measures to help prevent the spread of the virus – all in dramatically changed working environments.
However, when communities work together with a clear, well-informed plan, we can not only scale mountains, we can push them aside and achieve a positive impact that shapes the world for the better.
Driving change with intentional giving
As an individual, you may wonder how giving $100 or $200 to a charity can possibly make a difference. But imagine what we can achieve across Canada by working together as a team.
If all of us who can donate a few hundred dollars per year on average – perhaps 1% of our annual income – that’s billions of dollars to put toward solving important social challenges and achieving real impact.
What’s needed to make this happen? Intentionality.
Canadians are happy to donate here and there when someone comes knocking on behalf of a charity, but often not much thought or planning goes into our giving. As a result, our dollars can end up having less impact than we’d hope, or we end up giving less than we can.
Fortunately, we can overcome this by adopting a more intentional approach to giving and working together as Canadians to more effectively drive change.
Overcoming barriers to giving
Of course, the reality is that Canadians already contribute generously to charitable causes. However, together we have the potential to do even more to build up our social infrastructure and achieve those big, audacious goals. Two things that can help us boost our collective impact are clarity and confidence.
- Clarity. In the Thirty Years of Giving in Canada report, 69% of donors said they did not give more because they could not afford to do so. It is undoubtedly true that many Canadians already give as much as they can. But there are also many for whom uncertainty about their finances is the true barrier.
If you feel uncertain about your ability to give more, a trusted advisor can help you gain a clearer picture by assessing your current financial situation and helping you map out a financial roadmap. With more clarity on what you can afford to give, you’ll be in a better position to achieve significant impact.
- Confidence. The Thirty Years of Giving in Canada report found that 29% of donors cite concerns about inefficient or ineffective use of money as a barrier preventing them from giving more. A degree of scepticism is certainly warranted: sadly, the occasional news of a charity scam, or an event such as the WE charity scandal, can cast an unfair shadow over the entire sector dedicated to the society’s well-being.
Rather than limiting your giving due to pessimism, however, you can also seek out options for giving with greater confidence. For example, accreditation initiatives such as Imagine Canada’s Standards Program can highlight organizations that are committed to high standards of governance and accountability. When you are more confident that your money will be put to good use, you’re more likely to give more.
Joining forces to shape the world
Companies and individuals give to causes that are worthy. Philanthropy has grown each year, the new year more than the one before. But in difficult times, people dig deeper and give more to the organizations they care most about.
Achieving transformative social change requires us to dream big and join forces. None of us can eliminate hunger and poverty, cure diseases, and build a just society on our own. But working together with a clear, intentional plan, we can move mountains and create a better Canada for the benefit of everyone.
Elke Rubach is President of Rubach Wealth, a Toronto-based firm that helps established professionals and business owners support the people and causes they care about through comprehensive wealth and retirement planning. Contact Elke at 647.349.7070 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bruce MacDonald is President & CEO of Imagine Canada, a national non-profit organization that creates programs and resources to strengthen charities, promote corporate giving, and support the charitable sector. Contact Bruce at email@example.com.