Economy takes bite out of donations to charity

  • November 27, 2009

{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic charities remain hopeful that donors will continue to open their hearts and wallets this holiday season, despite donations having fallen to their lowest level since 2005.

According to a Nov. 16 Statistics Canada report, Canadians donated $8.19 billion to charities in 2008, in the midst of the economic downturn, a 5.3-per-cent fall from the previous year. This was the lowest figure in four years when donations totalled $7.9 billion.


ShareLife, the archdiocese of Toronto’s fundraising arm, saw a $300,000 shortfall in its annual campaign, down 2.75 per cent from the previous year. But executive director Arthur Peters told The Catholic Register the agency will “do everything it can” to appeal to parishioners because ShareLife is “serving more people in this time of need.”

“Contributions do make a difference,” Peters said.

ShareLife will maintain its parish goal of $12 million for 2010, but lower its corporate goal by $125,000 to $1.5 million.

At Providence Healthcare, new donations declined last year. But communications director Beth Johnson said the final tally of donations from special events and donations from long-term donors exceeded expectations and have kept contributions steady. She noted the Oct. 24 Silver Ball gala raised $100,000 more than its goal of $600,000.

It’s a similar story at St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation. Foundation president Alayne Metric said it’s been a “tight year.” But donations have been steady and current donors haven’t stopped giving, though the amount donated has fallen.

There are signs of hope, she added. The foundation raised $140 million for a new research facility, the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, set to open in 2010.

At Covenant House, Canada’s largest shelter for homeless youth, director Josie do Rego said donations are similar to last year, but with Covenant House serving more youth — more than 2,200 youth stayed at the shelter last year compared to the previous year and 1,000 more are expected this year — it is counting on donors to remain steadfast.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. The Statistics Canada report also notes positive trends. The number of donors to charitable organizations went up by 1.7 per cent in 2008 to 5.8 million while the same percentage of people who claimed charitable donations on their income taxes remained at 24 per cent.

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