Donating to charity will improve your life

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Recent statements by local and national charities say that donations are down significantly since last year. Many of these organizations are critical to the community at this time of year, like Winnipeg Harvest, the Christmas Cheer Board and many others.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/12/2017 (1691 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Recent statements by local and national charities say that donations are down significantly since last year. Many of these organizations are critical to the community at this time of year, like Winnipeg Harvest, the Christmas Cheer Board and many others.

What’s happening? At the same time, a recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute showed that 30 per cent of Canadians say they don’t donate as much money to charity as they would like to. Hmm. So, what holds us back?

As you know from reading my column over the last 25 years, I am a big fan of gratitude — of feeling grateful, showing gratitude and being truly thankful for all that we have. My belief is that feeling and displaying gratitude not only makes you feel better, but makes you more productive, effective and successful in all aspects of your life.

These principles work equally well all year round, but it’s hard not to make it seasonal in late December.

Since this is a personal finance column, the obvious connection is to making charitable donations by year end and getting a charitable tax receipt to use on your 2017 income tax. But hopefully, we can go a little deeper than that.

If you can afford to make additional donations to local charities before year end, it would sure be a big help to those organizations and to the community. As work finally slows down for me going into the holidays, I commit to reviewing my 2017 donations and seeing what more I can do. With online donations, it’s easy.

Several years ago we changed our custom here at my office from buying special gifts for each of our clients, to donating that same money to charity. Our clients have supported that initiative strongly (though some still point out that they miss the unique and personalized gifts we used to find). I think it has encouraged everyone to give a little more personally, as well.

This year, we have extended that custom to our family, substituting donations of money or time for gifts to each other. It feels good.

I encourage you to do what brings you joy, and use your accumulated wisdom to differentiate between temporary elation and lasting joy.

Let’s go back to that Angus Reid poll. Good news is that three-quarters of Canadians say they have given to at least one charitable cause in the past two years. Interestingly, 57 per cent say they have given in response to a prompt from an organization, not of their own initiative. I guess that’s why charities must keep asking.

People who give report a general trend of being exposed to altruism and charity by their parents, while those who do not give generally did not have that exposure. Parents, pay heed. Finally, an encouraging sign is that 48 per cent of Canadians say they would be more generous if they found the right cause for them.

That brings this back to us, to you and me. What cause do you want to help? What type of donation would bring you joy? Would you rather donate your time than your money?

Closer to home, give yourself a few minutes to tell someone what you appreciate about them. That might be the greatest gift you can give. Give yourself some time over the holidays to ponder what’s really important to you.

To all of you who celebrate Christmas, have a very merry one. To those who don’t, enjoy the days off provided by this annual ritual, forgive us our trespasses in the malls and enjoy the fruits of the Boxing Day sales.

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, and belated Happy Hanukkah.

Have a joyous holiday and a very happy and prosperous 2018!

Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is recipient of the Fellow of FPSCTM Distinction, a portfolio manager and senior advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a senior vice -president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

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