November 6, 2014

Canadian donors give for impact yet 43% are not sure if a charity will wisely spend their donation.

BMO's Philanthropy Report 2014 was released this morning. Firstly, Charity Intelligence extends a big “thank you” to BMO and its partners for doing this survey of Canadian donors and publically sharing the findings on changing donor attitudes. Research costs money. Data helps us all better understand the trends underway in Canada’s charitable sector. Good data helps all of us charities do better.

This 2014 BMO survey reports that Canadians are givers and giving remains strong. 91% of “rich” Canadians give to charities compared with 79% of all Canadians as reported in prior BMO surveys. It makes total sense that those with the most give the most. Across all income levels, Canada is a giving nation. Giving is part of the Canadian DNA. We cheer this aspect of what it means to be Canadian and should also, individually, do our part to ensure Canadian giving grows strong.

BMO’s Philanthropy survey reports that the highest motivation of donors is giving for impact. The other top motivations are a desire to give back to the community and feeling passionate about a cause. The survey reports that donors are least motivated to give out of obligation (that they should share their wealth with others) or to reduce taxes.

The largest hesitation is that 43% of donors said they fear a charity would not use the money wisely. Charity Intelligence is witnessing this trend. More Canadians are doing their homework before giving to a charity through getting research and being informed donors. Visitors to Charity Intelligence’s website have tripled since 2011 with more than 625,000 research reports downloaded.  Charity Intelligence hopes our independent research can address donors’ fears so they can give with greater confidence.

Donors want charities to show impact. As donors’ first priority is to have impact, it is increasingly important for charities to respond to this. Charities will need to improve their communications to donors. Donors are asking for more than “success” as measured by fundraising results or low administrative overhead, with a new focus on a charity’s “bottom line” results, namely the impact it achieves. This new emphasis on delivering impact will require charities to do better evaluation of the work they do, the people they serve, and the results they achieve. This higher level of information will be essential in providing donors greater certainty that their giving is making a difference. Charity Intelligence hopes BMO’s survey will raise the level of impact reporting among charities.

It will not be easy. Getting this information and doing these evaluations is difficult work, as Charity Intelligence has found in researching and analysing over 600 Canadian charities. But it’s work worth doing; it matters most to donors.

Link to the BMO 2014 Philanthropy survey

Kate Bahen, CFA, Managing Director


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