The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

December 17, 2015 05:30 ET

Fraser Institute News Release: Charitable Giving on the Wane Across Canada, but Manitobans Remain the Most Generous Canadians

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 17, 2015) - The holiday season is a time to reflect on the value of charity, yet fewer Canadians are donating to registered charities - and those who give are giving less in every province, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2015 Generosity Index, measures donations to registered charities claimed on personal income tax returns in Canada's 10 provinces and three territories, the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

"With charitable giving on the wane, Canada's private charities face greater challenges in terms of securing the resources to help those in need," said Charles Lammam, study co-author and Fraser Institute director of fiscal studies.

In 2013 (the latest year of available data), 21.8 per cent of Canadian tax filers donated to charity, down from the recent peak of 25.1 per cent in 2004.

Canadians are also donating a smaller percentage of their income to registered charities. In 2013, Canadians gave 0.56 per cent of their total income to registered charities, compared to 0.61 per cent the previous year and the recent peak of 0.78 per cent in 2006.

Had Canadians donated in 2013 at the same rate as in 2006, Canada's charities would have received an additional $3.4 billion in 2013, for a potential total of $12.2 billion.

Among the provinces, from 2003 to 2013, every province saw a drop in the percentage of tax filers donating to charity, with Saskatchewan seeing the largest proportional drop from 27.1 per cent to 23.4 per cent.

The percentage of total income donated to registered charities also dropped in every province. For instance, in Canada's most populous province, Ontarians in 2013 gave 0.64 per cent of their total income, down from 0.85 per cent in 2003 (Saskatchewan also had the largest proportional decline on this measure).

Moreover, Canadians in some provinces are more charitable than in others.

In 2013, Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers (25.3 per cent) that donated to registered charities while New Brunswick had the lowest among the provinces (20.0 per cent).

Manitobans also gave more than their provincial counterparts, with 0.81 per cent of their combined income going to charity compared to Quebec (0.28 per cent, lowest among provinces) and the 0.56 per cent national average.

In terms of the average dollar value of donations, Alberta ($2,372) tops all provinces while Quebec, once again, ranks last at $735 - less than half the national average of $1,574.

The study also compares charitable giving in Canada to the United States. As in previous years, Canadians lag far behind their American counterparts.

In 2013, 25.0 per cent of American tax filers donated to charity compared to 21.8 per cent of Canadians. Similarly, Americans gave a much higher percentage (1.39 per cent) of their income to charity than Canadians (0.56 per cent).

"When it comes to donations to registered charities, Canadians may be surprised to learn that they are much less generous than Americans," said Ben Eisen, associate director of provincial prosperity studies at the Fraser Institute.

On the overall Generosity Index, Utah tops the list of 64 North American jurisdictions. Manitoba (38th place) remains the highest ranked Canadian jurisdiction followed by Prince Edward Island (45th), Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario (tied for 48th), British Columbia (53rd), Nova Scotia (55th), New Brunswick (56th), Newfoundland & Labrador (58th), Quebec (59th), Yukon (60th), the Northwest Territories (63rd) and Nunavut (64th).

Charitable Giving in the 2013 Tax Year
Canadian jurisdiction
(by order of index rank)
Percentage of tax filers donating to registered charities Percentage of combined income donated to charity
Manitoba 25.3 0.81
Prince Edward Island 24.1 0.60
Saskatchewan 23.4 0.59
Alberta 22.8 0.67
Ontario 22.9 0.64
British Columbia 20.7 0.66
Nova Scotia 21.3 0.48
New Brunswick 20.0 0.56
Newfoundland & Labrador 20.5 0.37
Quebec 20.2 0.28
Yukon 19.1 0.31
Northwest Territories 14.7 0.23
Nunavut 9.2 0.21

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The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    For interviews with Mr. Lammam or Mr. Eisen, please contact:
    Aanand Radia, Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute
    (416) 363-6575 ext. 238
    aanand.radia@fraserinstitute.org
    @FraserInstitute