Giving Back

By Kevin McKay

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Fortunately, for charitable organizations in Canada, seniors have been and continue to be the most generous donor groups in the country. And not only are they giving when it comes to financial donations, they are also generous with their time, talents, skills and expertise. “Community well-being is enhanced through older adults’ active participation in volunteer work and charitable donations,” states the website

Statistics Canada has published their findings about charitable giving, including some of the reasons why some people donate more than others. Some of those reasons include awareness of where or how to give, knowledge of a need, the feeling you can make a difference with your donation, available disposable income, strength of altruistic values, desire for recognition and psychological benefits, among others. The Stats Can website states, “Studies have shown that in addition to benefiting the community, the act of giving could increase the psychological well-being, self-esteem or social status and reputation of donors themselves.”

By a small margin, more women have been found to make donations than men.

One conclusion that can be drawn is that as people age more of them make charitable donations and the donations tend to be larger. More seniors give than younger adults and on average they give more money per person.

The statistics also back up the belief that volunteering your time, helping others, and giving are strongly related to one another. “In addition to having stronger pro-social values, people who do volunteer work are more likely to be solicited for a donation in the course of their activities and to experience social pressure. Thus, in 2010, among people who had performed 60 or more hours of volunteer work in the previous year, 91 per cent made donations, giving an average of $784. In comparison, 79 per cent of those who had not volunteered during the year had made donations, averaging $288.”

The study done by researchers at the University of Alberta, and published on the website, back up what Stats Canada found about a strong correlation between volunteers and donors to charitable organizations. Clearly, the group that volunteers the most hours above the age of 15 are those from 65 -74 years old, according to the website. Significantly, all of this volunteer time donated by older Canadians is of great value to the country’s economy. “In market terms, the economic value of older adults’ volunteer contributions amount to more than $5 billion annually.”

These same senior volunteers who donate so much of their time also lead the way when it comes to giving. No matter what their reason or reasons, they are the ones leading the way. “One in four charitable donors are aged 65 and older,” states “The likelihood of being a ‘top donor’ increases with age. Nearly one-third of top donors are 65 and older. While the 65 and older top donor group comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, they donate 20 per cent of the total value of all donations received.”

Sadly, in this modern world, it seems that for every good and worthwhile charitable venture, there is a corresponding scam or someone trying to rip people off for their own gain in the name of charity. The provincial government provides some helpful advice to prevent seniors and others from being taken advantage of. They stress that once you give a donation to a phony charity, there is little you can do to get your money back, so do your homework before giving to a charity you are uncertain about. On their website,, they recommend that in addition to telling the solicitor you are not interested, don’t be afraid to ask questions including what the charity does, its registration number and how you get your tax receipt.

They go on to suggest you get information about your charity before donating, take time to think about your decision, never send cash, do not give out personal information that should not be needed to make a donation and read and keep receipts.

Finally, when reading your receipt make sure it includes a statement that the receipt is an official one for income tax purposes, includes your name and address, has the charity’s registration number, notes the size and date of the donation and the Canada Revenue Agency’s name and website address.
Giving can benefit so many, including the giver, but it is important to give wisely and protect yourself, even as you help others.



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