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Generosity is on a downward trend

If we all put a little more effort and give a little bit more, we could turn the trend around.

The holiday season is known as a time when Canadians generally make an extra effort to ensure those who are less fortunate have basic necessities, a few gifts, and needed supports to make it through. 

But according to a new study released by the Fraser Institute, the number of Canadians donating to charities is at the lowest it's been in about 20 years. Of course, the study doesn't speak to holiday giving, but rather giving in general, and is measured based on a percentage of all tax filers.

The study, which is called Generosity in Canada: The 2021 Generosity Index, also found the total amount donated by Canadians during the 2019 tax year, which is 0.53 per cent of income, is the second lowest amount reported in two decades. 

Canadians’ generosity peaked at 0.72 per cent in 2006, and has since been on the decline.

Across Canada, the percentage of Canadian tax filers donating to charity has fallen from 25.5 per cent to 19.0 per cent over that same 20-year period, according to a summary of the study.

Of course, the declining donation amounts could translate to non-profits and charities running into financial challenges. At a time when there are so many other challenges, such as those related to the pandemic, the decline is no doubt a worry.

But, is the "generosity index" really just about finances? Sometimes, those who contribute the most to community initiatives, efforts, and physically lend a helping hand are not the people who have the largest bank accounts.

Generosity cannot only be measured by what you claim on your taxes. 

That being said, I do believe generosity is struggling in other ways. Over the years, a lack of volunteers has been noted by more groups in more stories than I can recall off the top of my head. Many groups are constantly on the look-out for help, and many of the tasks that are required for organizations and non-profits to operate are done by a very small handful of people.

Although I know I personally can't commit myself to more than what I already have on my plate, I do make an effort to help out when I can. Time is definitely just as valuable as money.

But, both are crucial. I'm sure if we each put a little bit of effort into donating a little bit more - in whatever way suits us best - we could start to turn a downward trend up. And perhaps the holidays are the perfect time to start a new trend.

Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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