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Charities Role in Canada


Charities play an essential role in communities across Canada, providing expertise and support to every aspect of our lives, such as healthcare, education, alleviation of poverty and the environment, among many others. Just as importantly, charities contribute to Canada’s public policy process.

The charitable sector is regulated by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), that grants charitable registrations that operate exclusively for charitable purposes.

Canadians donate their time, money, energy and skills to the causes that matter to them the most. These individuals are the foundational support for Canada’s more than 161,000 charities and nonprofits which in turn support our communities’ social fabric and quality of life.

Every year, millions of people donate money to charitable and non-profit organizations. By contributing financially to organizations and groups that support causes dear to their heart, donors want to contribute to the well-being of their fellow citizens or advance principles and values that they believe in. In recognition of the difference these donations can make in the community, governments provide income tax credits to encourage giving by taxpayers or match the amount donated by individuals in certain cases.

Sources of funding for charitable and non-profit organizations vary significantly according to the particular sector, each receiving greater or lesser levels of support in the form of government subsidies and grants, corporate donations, foundation grants, etc. Despite this diversity, almost all organizations count on individual donations to fulfil their mission and achieve their objectives. In that regard, gaining a better understanding of donors and their motivations can help organizations to make informed decisions.

There are many reasons why some people give more than others: level of awareness that a need exists, feeling that one is able to make a difference, relative cost of the donation as a proportion of disposable income, strength of altruistic or pro-social values, desire for social recognition, psychological benefits related to giving, being solicited and how this is done. Studies have shown that in addition to benefiting the community, the act of giving could increase the psychological wellbeing, self-esteem or social status and reputation of donors themselves.

Studies have shown that people with strong religious convictions also often have stronger pro-social and altruistic values, which motivate them to give more of their time and money to others. Also, because they are integrated into networks of congregational members, they would appear to be solicited more often and to feel more social pressure to give and to meet the group's standards. This being said, there are many reasons that might explain the gap between religious people who practice regularly and those who are less active, and these reasons may have different effects depending on religious affiliation.

It is well-known that giving, volunteering and helping others are all strongly associated: people who participate in one of these activities are also more likely to participate in another. In addition to having stronger pro-social values, people who do volunteer work are more likely to be solicited for a donation in the course of their activities and to experience social pressure (especially if this pressure comes from people they know well).