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Inflation crisis a grave threat to holiday giving: Survey

Inflation crisis a grave threat to holiday giving: Survey

Press release

Holiday giving is expected to drop substantially amid widespread financial hardships, a general decline in hope and surging demand for charitable services

Toronto, December 7, 2022 – Inflation, surging demand and falling donations have combined to create a perfect storm for Canada’s 170,000-plus charities and nonprofits, a new Imagine Canada research poll shows.

Imagine Canada’s 2022 Holiday Giving Survey finds that significantly fewer Canadians intend to give to charity this holiday season and many plan to give less.

Fewer than half of Canadian adults (48 per cent) say they intend to donate compared to 56 per cent in 2021. Among those planning to donate over the holidays, 38 per cent indicate they will give less.

The likelihood of a substantial drop in holiday season donations is a major threat to millions of Canadians who rely on charitable services. Many charities and nonprofits receive as much as 40 per cent of their donations from individuals in the last six-to-eight weeks of the year.

Annual giving also down

The poll shows donation amounts made so far this year (January-October) have also fallen sharply. The average pre-holiday charitable donation this year is $182, down about 20 per cent from the average contribution of $221 during the same period in 2021.

At the same time, the poll reveals just how deeply inflation has hurt personal finances. One-in-ten Canadians report having to use the services of a charity or nonprofit to help with rising costs.

More than nine-in-ten (92 per cent) recognize today’s harsh economic climate is making Canadians more reliant on charitable services.


Volunteerism also in decline
Volunteerism this holiday season is expected to decline. Fifty-nine per cent of Canadians say they will not be giving their time to support the work of charities over the holidays. The survey finds holiday volunteerism has suffered a 10 per cent drop from last year..

Fewer are more hopeful
Perhaps most telling is the deep and widespread impact of economic worries on hopefulness. The survey strongly suggests severe financial pressures are exacting a high toll on the well-being of Canadians. Entering this holiday season, only 44 per cent of Canadian adults say they are more hopeful than last year about their future. Young Canadians are generally more hopeful (58 per cent), while those 55 and older are least likely to be more hopeful (34 per cent).

The encouraging news emerging from the survey is that foundational Canadian values of generosity, helping others and community service remain intact and strong.

Majority want more government funding for charities
The survey also suggests strengthening the service capacity of charities and nonprofits is a national priority. The survey finds 54 per cent of Canadian adults support increased federal funding to help charities and nonprofits. Among women, support for greater federal assistance for the sector now stands at 63 per cent.

“Canadians place high value on the essential front-line work being done by charities and non-profits everyday to help people struggling with rising costs,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada. “Greater federal support need not cost taxpayers more money. Charity leaders, recognizing fiscal pressures facing the government, have proposed a plan whereby funds already earmarked for projects within the sector are instead allocated to pay for basic core operational expenses such as salaries and rent. This approach would greatly improve organizational health and stability within the sector and make a major difference in the lives of millions of Canadians.”

Findings related to generosity

  • 90 per cent of Canadian adults believe charitable giving provides hope and optimism for those experiencing hardship
  • 85 per cent think donating and volunteering to help the less fortunate is a powerful way to experience the spirit of the holidays
  • 77 per cent agree giving to charity and volunteering makes them feel connected to people and their community
  •  76 per cent also agree that the financial hardships being experienced by many Canadians has given them a new appreciation for the importance of generosity
  • 63 per cent believe charitable giving is an important source of joy for themselves and their family during the holiday season

“It’s time for Canadians to embrace their traditional values and do what they have always done in hard times – unite under the banner of generosity to help those in need and strengthen communities,” says MacDonald. “Charities desperately need individuals and families with the financial means to dig deep this holiday season. There is no better way to help others and experience the joy of the holidays."


Imagine Canada’s Holiday Giving in Canada Survey was conducted online by Ignite-Lab from October 26-28, 2022. 1,500 Canadian residents 18 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 and nonprofits. 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 nonprofits work together alongside business and government to build resilient and vibrant communities. | Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
For further information: 
Émilie Pontbriand
Senior Manager, Marketing and External Relations