March 19, 2015
Canadians have a reputation for being polite, but are they generous too? If so, who benefits from this generosity? We were interested in knowing where Canadians focus their pro-social activities. To that end, we asked 1,000 online panelists about their charitable behaviour in 2014, as well as the types of causes they would be interested in supporting, should they have the means to do so.
Giving Behaviour in 2014: In response to the first question above we can definitely say “Yes, Canadians are generous!” Only 15% report they did not donate any money to charitable causes last year. One-third (32%) gave up to $100, one-quarter (26%) donated between $101 and $500, and 16% donated more than $500. Over half (54%) of Canadians will be claiming charitable donations on their income tax returns this year.
Unlimited Giving: To answer the second question above, we first asked Canadians to select all of the causes that they would be interested in supporting, assuming they could afford to do so. When there were no restrictions placed on the number of causes one could select, Canadians seemed to answer according to realistic demands; that is, they did not select every cause available. In fact, the most popular cause – medical research (e.g., cancer, stroke, or rare diseases) – was selected by just under half of respondents (49%). Hospitals were chosen by 42% as a charitable cause of interest, while homelessness and poverty reduction were chosen by 40%. A similar proportion of respondents (38%) indicated support for animal welfare (e.g., humane societies or wildlife conservation).
Top Priorities: We know that the resources to support charitable causes (whether it is time or money) are typically finite. As such, we were also interested to see if the relative levels of support would change if respondents were limited to only one cause. Interestingly, medical research remained the cause with the most support (21%). However, homelessness and animal welfare causes tied for second (10% each) while hospitals dropped to fourth (8%). Given the relative drop in priority for hospital causes, it appears that there is likely an overlap in those who give to medical research and hospitals.
Demographic Differences: Across the top 7 most popular causes, women are more likely than men to indicate interest in providing support to any of the causes. The differences range from 5% to 16%, with animal welfare being the cause with the largest gender disparity. Those 55 and older are more likely than their younger counterparts to support medical research, hospitals, and homelessness and poverty reduction.
The poll was conducted February 10th and 11th, 2015 through online interviews in French and English totaling 1,000 participants across Canada. The results were weighted by province.
Dr. Brian Owen