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Canadians more hopeful this holiday season with new appreciation for importance of generosity: survey

Canadians more hopeful this holiday season with new appreciation for importance of generosity: survey

Press release

Two-thirds say giving and volunteering improves mental health by providing hope and connection

Toronto, December 14, 2021 – Over half of Canadians say they are more hopeful this year with eighty per cent of those crediting the ability to see friends and family in-person. Two-thirds of those who donate (63 per cent) and volunteer (66 per cent) indicate it fuels their hope and optimism over the holidays, according to two new surveys from Imagine Canada and Mental Health Research Canada.

One-third (32 per cent) are feeling less anxiety about the pandemic, with the vaccine relieving worries of their family (56 per cent) or themselves (53 per cent) contracting COVID-19.

The first study – Mental Health Research Canada’s Hopefulness Survey – examines the hopefulness of Canadians going into this holiday season. After in-person visits, connecting online as well as giving and receiving gifts have the strongest positive impacts.

The second – Imagine Canada’s annual Holiday Giving in Canada survey – explores the pandemic’s influence on holiday giving and volunteering intentions. Eighty-two per cent of Canadians say hardships inflicted by the pandemic have given them a new appreciation of the importance of generosity, while three quarters believe giving is an important source of joy for themselves and their families this holiday season.

The pandemic has had a negative financial impact on many Canadians but findings show a strong desire to still help those in need. The holiday giving survey also reveals that 65 per cent of Canadians believe giving and volunteering helps them feel more connected to others during the pandemic.

“Hope is fundamental to what makes us want to engage fully in life, and giving and volunteering are powerful ways to do that,” says Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO, Imagine Canada. “Helping others creates connection, reduces feelings of isolation, and increases joy. This has been especially important for the mental health of younger Canadians, as well as retirees, during the pandemic.”

“The ability to connect with friends and family is the number one reason for hope and optimism this holiday season,” says Akela Peoples, CEO, Mental Health Research Canada. “Giving and volunteering are powerful ways to “feel good” and Canadians are so very generous in this regard.”

 Additional Key Findings

  • Young Canadians expect to donate more this holiday season. Six-in-ten adults under 25 plan to donate, up 12 per cent from last year. 
  • 85 per cent of Canadians believe volunteering to help those in need is a powerful way to experience the spirit of the holidays.
  • 17 per cent plan to volunteer this year versus nine per cent in 2020. Pre-pandemic, about a third volunteered their time.
  • The donation rate is projected to be down eight per cent this year overall. 
  • This holiday season, 56 per cent of Canadians say they plan to donate, up five per cent from last year but down compared to pre-pandemic levels (60 per cent).
  • Pre-pandemic, the average total gift per year was about $450. Because of the pandemic, that amount has declined by 27.5 per cent to about $325. During the holiday season specifically, the average planned gift amount is $102.
  • The holiday giving survey also reveals growing demands for federal government support for charities and nonprofits. The percentage of Canadians who think the government should do more for the nonprofit sector to help serve our communities is up six per cent over last year.

Belief in the power of generosity and joy of giving are consistent in every region and across all income levels. But financial difficulties related to the pandemic continue to dampen the ability of Canadians to donate.

With a decline in donations from pre-pandemic levels, one in three again blame COVID-19 for a lower gift amount. Charities generally receive 40 per cent of their donations in the last two months of the year making this holiday season one of the most critical on record.

“Canadians’ giving intentions are strong, considering the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. But charities and nonprofits need our help even more now than before the pandemic,” says MacDonald. “Whether these organizations have the capacity to meet the related increasing need for their services in our communities will greatly depend on the generosity of Canadians this holiday season, as well as further government support.”


The Hopefulness Survey was conducted online by Mental Health Research Canada from October 22 to November 3, 2021. 4,108 Canadian residents aged 16 years and over were interviewed. A sample of this size has a confidence interval of ± 1.5 per cent.
The Holiday Giving in Canada Survey was conducted online by Ignite-Lab from November 17 to 22, 2021. 1,505 Canadian residents aged 18 years and over were interviewed. A sample of this size has a confidence interval of ± 2.7 per cent.

About Imagine Canada 

Imagine Canada is a national, bilingual charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities. Through our advocacy efforts, research and social enterprises, we help strengthen charities, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs so they can better fulfill their missions. Our vision is of a strong Canada where charities work together alongside business and government to build resilient and vibrant communities. | Twitter: @ImagineCanada | Facebook:

Mental Health Research Canada

Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) is a national, charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of the 1 in 5 Canadians living with mental illness, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. We advance evidence-based mental health knowledge that is problem-solving and applicable in the real world. | Twitter: @MHRCanada | Facebook: MHRCanada
For further information: 
Émilie Pontbriand
Manager, Marketing and External Relations