Imagine Canada

Imagine Canada

November 15, 2016 07:00 ET

Greater transparency would spur charitable donations: survey

Only half think charities are open and transparent, but 72 per cent say that accreditation positively influences their views

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 15, 2016) - Transparency and sound management are the top considerations when deciding whether to support a charity for 86 per cent of Canadians, according to a new survey.

The study, which was commissioned to explore familiarity, trust and confidence in Canadian charities, shows a clear need for greater transparency to enable donors to become more knowledgeable about their operations and the societal value they create.

The findings clearly show a gap between the desired levels of transparency that Canadians want and what they are currently seeing from Canada's charities. They also point to the importance of independent accreditation, like Imagine Canada's Standards Program, as a way to bridge that gap.

Nearly three quarters (72 per cent), for example, said they were more likely to trust and have confidence in charities that have achieved third-party accreditation. Half indicated that they would be more likely to give to a charity that had achieved rigorous accreditation standards and that percentage rises to 85 per cent among the strongest advocates of accreditation.

Disturbingly, the survey found that knowledge of how charities operate is low. Only 25 per cent of Canadians said they were highly or very familiar with charities and their activities. Those who expressed a high degree of familiarity were also significantly more trusting and likely to donate.

Other survey highlights:

  • 82 per cent of Canadians believe charities are important to Canadians
  • 76 per cent think charities have a positive impact
  • 25 per cent say they are highly familiar with charities and their activities, while 55 per cent say they are somewhat familiar and 21 per cent were unfamiliar
  • 36 per cent described themselves as highly trusting of charities; 37 per cent were somewhat trusting and 27 per cent expressed low trust
  • 58 per cent investigate how a charity is operated before getting involved
  • 50 per cent think charities are well managed
  • 70 per cent of Canadians made a donation in the past year

"Giving donors the knowledge and insight needed to build their trust is perhaps the most important governance issue facing charities today," says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Imagine Canada. "These findings strongly suggest highly transparent organizations have a profound marketplace advantage in terms of building donor trust, raising funds and attracting volunteers. The fact that only half of Canadians rank charities as being open and transparent should give every leader in the sector pause for thought."

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate accountability and transparent management is to participate in Imagine Canada's Standards Program, which is open to all charities and nonprofits. This comprehensive third-party accreditation initiative involves rigorous peer review of board governance, financial accountability and transparency, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement.

Although the program is relatively new, the survey revealed that 37 per cent of Canada's best known charities now display the Imagine Canada's Standards Program Trustmark and many more are now going through the accreditation process.

The stakes associated with earning trust and confidence have never been higher.

According to Imagine Canada, this holiday season about 60 per cent of Canadians are expected to give approximately $5 billion to thousands of charities. Charitable gifts made in the next five weeks are expected to account for 40 per cent of all donations in 2016.

"The holidays are a make or break time for charities," says MacDonald. "To make their gifts more meaningful, donors should take the time to evaluate charities that are aligned with their interests and values and, if more information is needed, to contact them directly. In particular, donors should keep a sharp eye out for third-party accreditation. One sure sign of sound management and transparency is the Imagine Canada Standards Program Trustmark, which will be prominently displayed on the participating organization's website."

Visit for a complete listing of accredited charities along with a comprehensive "Guide to Giving" to help donors become more familiar with charities of interest.

Results of this research study were based on a national online survey of 1,529 randomly selected Canadians and was balanced in terms of region and demographics. The survey was designed and administered by Ignite Lab. This survey was commissioned by Imagine Canada and the Canadian Centre for Accreditation.

About Imagine Canada

Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization whose cause is Canada's charities and nonprofits. Our three broad goals are to strengthen the sector's collective voice, create opportunities to connect and learn from each other and build the sector's capacity to succeed. / Twitter: @ImagineCanada / Facebook:

Contact Information

  • Leslie Booth (English Media)
    Senior Consultant, Xposure PR
    905-339-2209, ext. 6

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