Canada the Benevolent

Canadians are known as philanthropic people. In 2010, we ranked third out of 153 countries on Gallop’s Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index.  So, if you’re the person who has it all or are looking for an altruistic alternative, CanadaHelps may have just the thing for your gift-giving, and gift-getting needs.

CanadaHelps co-ordinates online donations to more than 80,000 registered charities and this year it has created a new kind of holiday wish list – the Cause Wish List.Set up a Cause Wish List and ask everyone to support your favourite charities. Owen Charters, CEO of CanadaHelps, says the inspiration came from board members and donors, the majority of which are boomers. “I was hearing a lot of people say, ‘I don’t need another iPad or fancy blender or cappuccino maker’ and I thought ‘What’s a more creative way to integrate charitable giving into gift giving?’” Charter explained.

CanadaHelps also offers charity gift cards for those wanting to give the gift of generosity – the recipient becomes the benefactor. Charter witnessed “an interesting family story” developing with grandparents giving them to their grandchildren; kids get to pick the cause – using a search function that Charters refers to as “the Google of giving” – while grandparents bestow the importance of charity.

So what is it that makes Canadians so generous? Charters claims that charitable giving is tightly tied to consumer confidence, he watches things like Black Friday as an indicator. But perhaps even more important than financial assurance is happiness. The Charities Aid Foundation found the correlation between happiness and giving is stronger than the correlation between wealth and giving. Statistics Canada reported tax filers donated almost $8.3 billion to charitable causes in 2010, an increase of 6.5 per cent from the previous year. It turns out, we really do, spread the joy.

– Tara Losinski