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It gave me a glimpse into awful environment that so many people, humanitarians and civilians, live through every day.
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We are presented opportunities everyday to make a difference in the lives of those around us, near or far, through our actions, time, or money. Whether we embrace that opportunity is up to us and, evidently, even the smallest of gestures or actions can veritably snowball into lasting results.
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When people talk about disasters, many focus on the earliest terrifying moments -- images of families in Alberta fleeing the wildfires, and wading through chest-high water from flooded homes in High River, or the rubble and wreckage where homes once stood in the days following the earthquake in Nepal. The often misunderstood reality is that the initial days, weeks and even months after a destructive event are just the start of a long, painful recovery.
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Many Canadians gave online to the ACLU to help overturn the Trump administration's de facto ban on travellers coming from several Muslim-majority countries. The unexpected effect of globalization is citizens feel empowered to act and comment on the actions of another country.
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I say "Bah Humbug" to The Fraser Institute for saying an average Canadian is less generous than their American neighbour. Their 2016 Generosity Index makes Canadians look bad because Canadian give much less to charity. Cash gifts are only one part of the generosity story.
Given that donations have grown relatively flat across the country in recent years, with a growing share of total donations coming from a small group of older donors, it's clear we need to do everything we can to inspire a new generation of givers.
I had the honour of speaking with Catherine, and she listened intently as I answered her question about what I think is the most important message to share about mental health. She was incredibly down to earth, and the care and interest that she showed towards me made the situation all the more memorable. To see such high profile individuals -- real life royalty -- advocate for youth mental health... gave me great faith that they will have tremendous success in breaking down barriers.
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Canadian charities have long relied on P2P campaigns to engage their most passionate supporters in attracting donations. But Canada's economic uncertainty and increased competition in the charitable space have dampened results for many of the country's largest and most established P2P programs.
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You see a pamphlet or a charity commercial about suffering kids in third world countries. Do you feel the kind of empathy that facilitates generosity, or do you feel the uncomfortable guilt that you try to avoid? At first, the shocking statistics and graphic photos worked -- the message was powerful and emotive. But after one too many pamphlets and commercials, the message is plain.
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By examining the actual return on investment of our charitable donations, we can better assess the tangible social impact of our donations. To do this, ask yourself, what social impact has my donation made? Or better yet, ask your charity of choice how the dollars you donated made a difference.
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You can try and spin it how you want, but the bottom line is that donors are only as altruistic as much as their socio-economic circumstances allow. A majority for the most part give because of their emotional connection to the cause, but that is only as long as they have additional income to give in the first place.
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Our world has some incredible non-profit organizations that are working to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time. Unfortunately many of these organizations are not equipped to effectively articulate their story to the public, potential donors and supporters, thought leaders, and politicians.
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This desire to 'do good' without any financial reward might help explain why the number of Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.9 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and why under six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85 per cent of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.
In Los Angeles County alone, there are 35,000 youth in foster care right now. At age 18 or 21, state and federal support abruptly ends and the youth who aren't adopted are ejected out of the foster system, many without the support of family or any community networks to help them make a successful transition into adulthood. Many of these young people are smart, driven, kind and articulate, determined to lead fulfilling, productive lives. Something as simple as the kindness of strangers getting together to set up their first pad can go a long way in helping these kids realize their potential.