Give the gift of generosity this holiday season

How To | December 11, 2019

In a box in my kitchen, there lives a fondue set. This fondue set has lived, untouched, in that particular kitchen cupboard corner for going on three years. Although only speculation, I expect this particular gift is the result of my in-laws racking their brains for a gift idea for me — a person who, very fortunately, wants for nothing.

In Canada, many of us benefit from great privilege; we’re well-equipped with the bare necessities, and then some. When the holidays roll around, we’re at a loss when asked to create a gift wishlist. And the result? Unnecessary gifts that end up re-gifted, sent to the landfill, or become semi-permanent dust-collectors. 

I think of my sister, who adores animals and often sends me pictures of fluffy four-legged characters (her own or those creating memes online). Animal-themed gifts are certain to bring her joy. But how many pairs of animal-themed socks does she want or need? 

An annual study by CPA Canada (2019 Holiday Spending Study) estimates Canadians will spend an average of $583 on gifts this season. While other surveys, like PWC’s 2019 Canadian holiday outlook, estimate that figure to be as high as $1,593. The point here isn’t to “bah humbug” on traditions or pass judgement on holiday spenders, but to prompt contemplation: how is the money you spend this holiday season going to impact others? 

The good news highlighted in these surveys is that more holiday shoppers are looking for ways to trim down on their gift-giving. Some are incorporating sustainability principles by shopping for locally and ethically made goods. Others, 18% of Canadians to be specific, plan to give charitable donations in place of traditional gifts. 

While only a fraction of gift exchanges involve charitable giving, I’m hopeful this number will increase with time. Particularly because 72% of people in Canada already plan to make at least one charitable donation this holiday season. With more people aiming to reduce their waste, why not replace some items on your gift list with gifts to charitable organizations that matter to you or those you love? 

With Charitable Impact, you can pick a cause and make a charitable donation in someone’s name. You receive a tax receipt for the gift. In turn, they save on kitchen cupboard space, and receive the satisfaction of knowing funds are supporting a cause dear to them. 

Did you know you can also give someone charitable dollars, for them to give away? You receive a tax receipt for the gift, and they get the enjoyment of selecting from over 85,000 charities to support. 

My gift-giving this year won’t be purely philanthropic. But in an effort to think “outside the box” of traditional gift-giving, I’m investing in local charitable organizations that matter to my friends and family members. 

For my sister, a donation in her name could help vaccinate orphaned kittens, nourish a dog waiting to be adopted, or rescue a wild animal in need of rehabilitation.

For my mother-in-law, a retired educator and avid reader, I’m in search of an organization that delivers meaningful educational programming in her community. Instead of regifting my (still new!) fondue set, a donation in her name might support English-as-a-second-language learners, create experiential learning opportunities for at-risk young people, or provide meals to students in need so they can focus throughout their school day.

Most charitable organizations in Canada are small, meaning their total revenue is less than $200,000 annually. Regardless if you give to a large or small charitable organization, your donation is likely to make a real difference this season. And with so many to choose from, chances are there’s a local organization undertaking work that matters to you and your loved ones, right in your community.

So think of keeping those kitchen cupboard corners clear, and give the gift of generosity this holiday season.

You don’t have to be an expert in charity to give well. Our Philanthropic Advisory services are designed to help donors learn what matters to them and how to maximize their charitable impact. Through objective giving advice, research, and personalized support, we help your charitable contributions make a real difference in the world. If you have questions about finding a charitable organization to support this season, get in touch via nicole.macdonald@charitableimpact.com. 

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