Charity Giving in Canada: What Sets Canadian Donors Apart?

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Charity Giving in Canada: What Sets Canadian Donors Apart?

We've recently conducted a wave of research with the Canadian public, but how will their donation habits compare to the UK's charitable habits? This week we're exploring some of the key findings of this new research and identifying how charities can adapt to the priorities of of their supporters.

Cian Murphy & Tim Harrison-Byrne

To those who don’t yet know, this year has seen the nfpResearch team taking on a new and exciting venture as we launched our first wave of research with the Canadian public. Our mission is to bring the same high quality of research and decades of experience we’ve gained working with UK charities to the Canadian sector, where we’re now helping charities of all sizes to better connect with their audiences.

The past year has seen us become a larger and stronger team of researchers, and we’re thrilled that this has allowed us to extend our support to a new body of charities. We believe that this will also let us explore the strengths of a new sector and gain new perspectives, enhancing our contribution to charities in Canada and the UK alike. We took this approach in our free report Fundraising Around the World, where we explored the fascinating differences between various nations’ charitable habits and benchmarked the UK charity sector’s performance against global trends.

Though this year marks our first wave of regular research in Canada, we’ve already discovered some interesting comparisons between donors on opposite sides of the Atlantic. This week, we’re delving into some of the ways that Canada and the UK approach charitable giving differently, and exploring how charities can adapt their fundraising strategies to meet the preferences of their nation’s public.


Fewer donors, bigger donations

A standout observation from our June wave of research is that there is a significant difference between the proportion of the UK public and Canadian public who donate to charity. While 65% of the UK have donated to a charity in the past three months, only 46% of Canadians say the same. This is a considerable variation, and likely to deeply impact the nature of relationship-building between Canadian charities and their potential supporters.

What’s more, however, is that Canadian donors also tend to support fewer charities than the average Brit. But even though we’re seeing fewer charities being supported by fewer individuals, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Canadian charity sector. Our research has also uncovered that the average amount given by Canadian donors is much larger than the UK average. So, what does this mean for donor relations?


Deeper relationships

Compared to their UK counterparts, Canadians support fewer charities but are notably more generous in their giving. The average value of donations over a three-month period in Canada is CA$188, compared to an equivalent value of only CA$119 donated by the typical British donor. It makes for an intriguing dichotomy that fewer Canadians donate, but many are willing to give very generously.

What this signifies is that Canadian charities may encourage a deeper level of commitment and engagement among a relatively select few who hold their cause dear. Canadian charities likely foster their deeper engagement by providing a robust donor experience – a strategy that we encourage investment in to attract and retain their high-value supporters.


Canada more optimistic about the future than the UK

Another comparison that can be made is between the optimism of the British and Canadian publics. Canadians are far more likely to say that they think their country is headed in the right direction than Brits. They are similarly likely to tell us that they’ll donate more in the coming year, while the public in the UK expects to be able to give less. This outlook bodes well for Canadian charities, and we’re looking forward to sharing how this trend progresses as we complete more waves of research in Canada, as well as reflecting on whether the British public’s pessimism is well founded when we see next year’s donation stats.


As for our own outlook at nfpResearch, we’re thrilled to have approached this new frontier and had success in our first wave of Canadian research. We’ll be sharing more of our findings from this research next month – we’re delighted to be working with Imagine Canada to host our free online webinar Canadian Charities: The Public View at 2PM EST on Thursday October 19. If you work at a Canadian non-profit, follow this link to reserve a spot today!

Tim will also be appearing at Imagine Canada’s Leadership Roundtable at the end of this month – keep an eye out for him there!

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