Most Canadians giving to charities this holiday season with money, canned goods

MONTREAL – Canadians appear to be in a more generous mood this holiday season and have increased the amount they are giving to charitable causes.

A new study says 86 per of Canadians will support some sort of charitable activity with money, goods or volunteering and have increased their average donation to $580, up $23 from $557 in 2012.

The study by BMO Harris Private Banking says 52 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they would donate money, while 49 per cent said they would be donating canned goods or a food basket.

It also found that 47 per cent would donate clothing and 23 per cent would be volunteering during November and December.

Ontario and Alberta led the country with 89 per cent of those surveyed in both provinces saying they would be doing some sort of charitable giving this holiday season.

BMO Harris Private Banking says Canadians are donating to a wide range of causes, with reported amounts anywhere from a few dollars to more than $1 million.

“Depending on how much it is they are giving, some of them are creating private foundations and these are people who have at least a million or so put towards philanthropy,” said Marvi Ricker, vice-president and managing director of philanthropic services at BMO Harris Private Banking.

“At the other extreme, there are people who are just tossing money into the Salvation Army kettles or giving to the local food banks. In between, we have these affluent people who can afford to give in the thousands, but not in the millions, and they may be creating a fund at their local community foundation or giving a significant amount to their university or the local hospital,” Ricker said from Toronto.

Canadians are feeling better about the economy and that has made them a bit more generous, Ricker added.

“We know that the gap is getting bigger between the rich and the poor, so clearly the need continues,” she said. “This is the time of year we think about giving.”

The study says the most popular causes that Canadians are supporting in 2013 are health, medical and anti-poverty initiatives.

“Health-care is a very important issue for most people. It’s the first order of priority for boomers,” Ricker said.

Last year’s BMO Harris Private Banking poll found that 79 per cent of Canadians donated money to a charity in 2012, but didn’t ask if Canadians were doing some sort of charitable giving during the holiday season.

In 2013, the poll found that 77 per cent of Canadians had donated to a charitable cause in the past 12 months.

The online poll was conducted by research and marketing firm Pollara from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 with a sample of 1,023 Canadians aged 18 years and over.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.