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 -- it literally sets up a cycle of feast and famine. 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," an apt name to describe what many charities go through during spring and summer. Whether the dry season is due to donors vacationing or because they focus their giving during the holiday season, it's a real and significant struggle for many Canadian charities.
To compensate, charities must rely on "key giving moments." These moments in time can be seasonal or manufactured, but each provides an opportunity to focus interest on the charity and promote opportunities for donation.
You are probably familiar with this. For example, seasonal moments could be food drives that center around Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays, a time when families are gathering for special meals. Manufactured moments could include things such as recognized days, weeks or months, or organized events and appeals such as GivingTuesday, Movember, or the Run for the Cure.
Other focus moments are not planned, but for charities equipped to respond to emerging situations, leveraging that immediate focus can help them deliver much needed services. The recent Fort McMurray wildfires are an example as Canadians, galvanized by the horrifying images of fellow Canadians fleeing their homes, have donated tens of millions of dollars in support of those affected.
But not every charity has the means to be able to create impactful key giving moments on their own. Smaller charities, or charities with a very niche focus, can sometimes be overlooked, especially when there are organizations with a much larger profile, larger staff, and larger budgets.
Smaller charities do have options. For example, they can take advantage of programs like The Great Canadian Giving Challenge. This event was created last year in response to the "drought season" and to remind Canadians that charities need year-round support to better serve our communities.
The Challenge is simple: For every dollar donated* in June to any charity on CanadaHelps.org or givingchallenge.ca, the charity is automatically entered to win a $10,000 prize from The GIV3 Foundation. Canadians donate throughout the month of June, giving any dollar amount to any charity of their choosing. Each donation increases their charity's chance of winning the grand prize, which is drawn on Canada Day.
Last year, 7,500 charities used this event as an opportunity to reach out to their supporters and encourage contributions throughout the month of June. Since each contribution could help them to earn the $10,000 prize, donors are highly motivated. At the end of the 30 day period, over $6.3 million in eligible donations were given, a 22 per cent increase over the previous year.
And it wasn't just the dollars that grew -- it was also the number of Canadians giving, with 18 per cent more Canadians donating in June 2015 versus June 2014. Given the success of the inaugural year, The Great Canadian Giving Challenge will be launching again this year, providing charities across Canada a new "key giving moment" to leverage before drought season kicks in.
* See full rules at: http://givingchallenge.ca/rules.html
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook