Despite sluggish economic growth that has tightened its business purse strings, corporate Canada is fulfilling its charitable commitments in 2016.
In 2013, CanadaHelps and a handful of other Canadian organizations implemented Giving Tuesday in Canada. The cyberholiday, originally started by the United Nations Foundation in the U.S. in 2012, has grown into a major movement driven by social media and dedicated to charitable giving at the start of the annual Christmas season.
Since Giving Tuesday’s launch in Canada, online charitable efforts have been on the rise. According to CanadaHelps, there are 585% more donations on Giving Tuesday than on an average day in the year. In 2016, there have already been 24% more donors, 25% more dollars donated and 58% more monthly donations received than in all of 2015.
“A lot of companies have corporate matching or donation-matching programs, so employees in times of economic stress are more likely to give if they know the company is going to match,” said Corey Diamond, chief operating officer of Realized Worth.
Realized Worth is one of many global consulting firms focused on motivating employees to participate in volunteering and giving programs. The rise in giving has been attributed partly to the sophistication of technology, Diamond said.
“Let’s say you work at TD Bank, you have a TD branded portal that’s on your intranet, you have a profile, you can make a donation to any charity in Canada,” he said. “A cheque is automatically sent, your company can match your donation and from what you are interested in, you are sent invitations to similar things.”
Another corporate giving trend on the rise is monthly donations. According to CanadaHelps, monthly donations now represent 23% of all online giving and are preferred by large companies due to the ease with which predictable, even payments throughout the year can be incorporated into budgets. Increasingly, charitable giving has become a hallmark of companies seeking to attract the attention of job-hunting millennials.
“Fifty per cent of the workforce will be millennials by 2020, and millennials are the most socially conscious workforce we have ever had,” said Sona Khosla, vice-president of marketing at Calgary-based software maker Benevity. “They demand things from their employers; they demand charitable companies involved with many causes.”
Benevity’s “goodness platform” aims to simplify the giving process and show how easy donating can be. “Smart” giving has become crucial to how millennials evaluate their chosen employer’s social consciousness.
Donating also remains useful from a marketing standpoint.
“There is a theory in management called stakeholder theory that says in order to maximize profit you need to prioritize your stakeholders including the environment they operate in, workforce, social environment and community,” said Edward Bukszar, associate professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.
By aligning with the needs of the community, companies benefit by increasing their influence and broadening support for their brand.
“Now you see companies being formed with not only profit motives but specific motives to contribute to the community in terms of its environment and the way it treats its citizens,” Bukszar said.
There are, of course, the tax benefits that come with donating money.
“For every dollar you make you could give up to $0.75 to a charitable organization and then people write that off,” said Bukszar. “The money you paid is a credit and then you are taxed on the $0.25 remaining out of the dollar as opposed to the whole dollar.”
In Canada, online donating is on the rise, but a recent Fraser Institute report found a declining percentage of Canadian tax filers are donating to charity.
According to the report, roughly 20% of tax-filing British Columbians donate to charity. Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers who donated to charity with nearly 25% in 2016. Ontario was close behind at 22%. Nationwide, a higher percentage of tax-filing Americans (24.5%) donated to charity than Canadians (21.3%).
According to Statistics Canada, Canadians donated $10.6 billion in 2010, a total that remained static since 2007. Online donating and social movements like Giving Tuesday are working at increasing donations in each Canadian province, but Canada still lags significantly compared with U.S. generosity.
“There is about $400 billion donated annually in the U.S.,” said Khosla. “Canadian companies are much more traditional in their approach to corporate giving, such as writing large cheques. American companies on the West Coast are taking a more progressive approach.”
Corporate giving is ultimately about connecting employer and employee, Diamond said.
“When you give money or when you are enabled to give money or volunteer by your company, you experience positive feelings about yourself. You attach those feelings to being a product of your company; you create a lasting emotional bond.”