Though Canada is far from immune to the forces of intolerance, we generally still self-identify as generous, socially conscious citizens. In this moment of unease and unrest, it's heartening that we see ourselves as the world's helpful, conscientious neighbor. Well Canada, this week we have the chance to put our money where our identity is.
Every year, charities reap the benefits of Canadians' generous holiday spirit, seeing a significant bump in December donations. In fact, more than a third of CanadaHelps' annual donations are achieved in this one month alone. While that seasonal generosity is important for charities, there is an unfortunate downside -- as the seasons change and the weather gets warmer, donations tend to dry up, leaving gaps for many organizations. I call this the "summer drought."
Considering we now live in an age where virtually any piece of information is at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that Canadians have become increasingly interested in seeing how their charitable dollars are being spent. People now want visibility into the impact their chosen charities are making in the world, and it is a charity's ability to drive results which will inspire donors to give more.
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
The calendar is jammed with events and parties. There are all those presents to buy. While this sounds like fun to the busy-bodies among us, it can be a bit of a nightmare for those who default to lazy-mode. By following my couch potato's guide to surviving the holidays, you can do what I did last year, and binge on Netflix.
For every tragic incident in the world today, there are countless more women and men humanitarians -- changemakers -- making the world a better place in their own respective capacities. Light is more potent and powerful in effacing darkness; let's each of us resolve to spread more light around us, in our communities, and throughout our world.
Like me, you may be struggling this holiday season to show someone very dear to you that you love them -- from thousands of miles away. It's not like you can decorate together, or fill their home with the smells of good things to eat. It's not like you can sit by the fire together, and raise a class of cheer. Or can you?
In the last few years, crowdfunding has become a huge force to raise money for a variety of causes globally. Crowdfunding, embraced particularly by younger generations, appears to have an influential future as a fundraising strategy for millennials, who have grown up in the peer-to-peer vs. top-down influence framework.
Twenty-four per cent of our donations go to small charities that make up 80 per cent of the sector. I personally was not aware of the vital work they do until my family needed the services of one. They provided services that a larger charity -- which often focuses on bigger picture work -- couldn't provide.
Sure, you might throw a few coins in the Salvation Army Christmas kettle at the mall, or write a cheque for the charity canvasser who comes knocking on your door, or send some canned goods to school with your kids for their annual fundraiser. But you probably do it without giving it a lot of thought, at least if you're like most of us.
It's true that most governments in developing countries provide education for children. And there's no doubt that millions of children overseas are intelligent, hard-working and yearning to succeed. But let's consider the many challenges which children in the world's poorest regions face when trying to attend school.
No matter your age, you very likely made a donation you can claim on your tax return. This can be anything from sponsoring a friend's marathon, to attending a fundraising gala, to growing a moustache. Giving through the year is a great way to give back to your community, and there's certainly a little karma built into tax refunds, so make sure you follow these tips to get a little back come tax time.
Whether you're a billionaire, a small business owner, a student, or a retiree, I hope that you will make it a New Year's resolution to volunteer in your community. I can promise you that the personal benefits will be at least as great, and probably more long-lasting, than giving up chocolate or joining a gym!
The non-profit organization, just like the technology start-up with a disruptive, yet unproven, new innovation, must sell its vision as much as its financial model and its metrics for measuring impact. But by reducing organizational survival to a simple sales-pitch ignores the fundamental truth that not all organizations are created equally.
While "Giving Tuesday" hasn't fully migrated north to Canada, the idea behind it is appealing. With all the ads and other reminders to shop and give at this time of year, I think it's worth stepping back for a moment to consider how and why we give and also the far-reaching results certain gifts can generate.