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What Canadian Donors Want: Information, Impact and to Help Those in Need

Resource Center - Foundation

New Fact Sheets on “What Canadian Donors Want” Available For Download

More Canadians than ever are knowledgeable about charities and researching before they give, but many are not sure about the impact their gifts are having, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 donors across the country conducted by the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada in partnership with Ipsos Reid.

The 2013 What Canadian Donors Want Survey found that 86 percent of Canadians considered themselves knowledgeable about the causes they support, a nine-point jump from the 2011 survey. In addition, seven in ten Canadians typically conduct research on a charity before they give, with 44 percent saying they pro-actively look up charities even before they are asked to give.

The strong interest in giving reflects Canadians’ faith in the work of the charitable sector. Seventy-three percent express confidence in the charitable sector, vs. 63 percent for the private sector and 49 percent for the public sector. In addition, 77 percent felt that charities have an important role to play in addressing societal needs not met by government or the private sector, and 73 percent said government should allocate the same or more funding to charities.

“Canadians believe strongly in the work and impact of the charitable sector,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). “It’s clear that Canadians have greater faith in charities’ ability to deliver services than other parts of society, which is a strong sign that government should be looking for more ways to support and enable the sector.”

Who Canadian Donors Are

According to the survey, 70 percent of Canadians say they’ve made a financial donation to a charity or a nonprofit organization in the past twelve months. Those living in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were most likely to give.

Canadians over the age of 55 are most likely (80 percent) to have donated, followed by those aged 35 to 54 (67 percent) and 18 to 34 (62 percent).

Canadian donors are often engaged in more than one cause. Just twenty percent support one charity, while most give to 2-3 (44 percent) or 4-5 causes. A few (16 percent) give to more than six causes.

The most popular reason why Canadians donated to charity is the desire to “help those in need” (35 percent). Other reasons include wanting to “give back to the community” (19 percent), and because they felt it was “the right thing to do” (17 percent).

Understanding Charities

More than eight in ten Canadians agree that charities have administrative costs that are needed to run their operations effectively and efficiently, similar to private sector organizations.

However, only half (51 percent) said charities have the plans and resources necessarily to carry out their mission. When asked to identify which administrative area is the most important to invest in, 42 percent identified fundraising, followed by staff training and development, regulatory compliance and infrastructure.

By nearly a three-to-one margin, more Canadians agree than disagree that charities in Canada act responsibly with the donations they receive (60 percent agree vs. 20 percent disagree), that they are trustworthy (57 percent agree vs. 17 percent disagree), and that they are well-managed (56 percent agree vs. 19 percent disagree). 

Two-thirds of donors (66 percent) say they have been made aware of an ethical code followed by charities they have supported.

“What these results tell us is that we have an active and engaged public who believe in charities and understand what it takes for charities to be effective,” said Scott Decksheimer, CFRE, chair of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada. “Fundraising professionals try to ensure that people understand the giving process, the ethical safeguards that charities have in place, and how they can best make an impact. The survey shows that we are pointed in the right direction, and we will continue to work to empower Canadian donors and give them the information and data they want to make informed giving decisions.”

The 2013 What Canadian Donors Want Survey was conducted Oct. 17-21, 2013, using the Ipsos Reid Online Panel and involved 1,003 respondents across Canada. The research was generously funded by the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada through donations by Canadian AFP members to the Every Member Campaign, as well as support from donors Don Johnson and Michael Decter.

The various fact sheets from the 2013 What Canadian Donors Want Survey in both English and French are available here:

Final Report – December 2013



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