Research & Reports

Latest Government Data: Charitable Giving in Canada, 2017

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Statistics Canada has released the latest data available, from 2017, about the number of donations and donors across the country by province. The information is based on data from tax filers so does not represent all giving in Canada for 2017.

From its release on Feb. 8, Statistics Canada Found that total donations reported by Canadian tax filers rose to $9.6 billion in 2017, up 7.7% from 2016. This increase more than offset a 2.6% drop in donations in 2016, which was associated with slower economic growth that year for provinces rich in natural resources. Trends in total charitable donations do not always reflect trends in the overall economy, however, a similar rebound in donations was observed following the 2008 economic downturn.

British Columbia had the largest increase for charitable donations (+18.9%) which followed a strong increase the previous year (+7.1% from 2015 to 2016). Nunavut (+13.5%) followed by Alberta and Nova Scotia (both up 9.1%) also experienced notable increases. For Alberta, this was in sharp contrast to the decrease the previous year (-10.7% from 2015 to 2016).

Number of Donors

While the dollar amount of charitable donations increased in 2017 over the previous year, the number of donating tax filers fell by 48,840 (-0.9%) to 5,348,220, continuing a trend which started in 2011. The number of donors fell in all provinces and territories, except Quebec which experienced a modest increase (+1.0%). The largest decrease in donors was in Alberta (-4.4%) followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.0%). Even in British Columbia, where the increase in the dollar amount of charitable donations was largest, the numbers of tax filers making donations fell slightly (-0.2%).

Nationally, the median donation was $300 in 2017, meaning that half of those claiming a donation tax credit made donations of more than $300, while the other half donated less than $300. Nunavut had the highest median donation ($560) followed by Alberta with $480 and British Columbia with $460. The lowest median donation amount was in Quebec ($130).

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs), donors in Abbotsford–Mission, British Columbia, had the highest median charitable donation at $840. This was the 16th consecutive year that Abbotsford–Mission led the country with the highest median donation. Donors in Lethbridge, Alberta had the second highest median charitable donation ($700) among CMAs, followed by Saskatoon ($480), Vancouver ($480) and Calgary ($470).

Seniors Most Generous Donors

Tax filers age 65 and older have seen a gradual increase in their relative importance among donors.

In 2007 they represented 24% of all donors, compared with 30% in 2017. This increase was accompanied by an even stronger increase in their share of the overall donations amount. In 2007, they were responsible for 30% of the total donation amount, while in 2017, they represented 42% of the total donation amount. Tax filers age 65 and older also had the highest average donation among tax filers in 2017 ($2,500).

From 2007 to 2017, the strongest decrease in the proportion of donors was for tax filers aged 45 to 54. In 2007, they represented 24% of all donors, compared with 19% in 2017.

The tables accompanying the latest data can be found here.

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