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This article was published 29/8/2018 (644 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In Manitoba, we extend a hand. It’s what we do, but it’s also more than that: it’s who we are.
Statistics Canada regularly lists charitable donations by province, and Manitobans are invariably the most generous. There has been speculation over the years about what factors shape this province’s charity. One theory is that geographic isolation, harsh weather and rural roots have combined to develop a neighbour-helps-neighbour compassion.
That admirable distinction could fade, however, as Manitoba’s baby boomers die off.
Younger generations aren’t giving as much as their parents and grandparents, according to an exhaustive new report titled Thirty Years of Giving in Canada: The Giving Behaviour of Canadians. The report was produced by Imagine Canada, a national organization devoted to strengthening charities and a foundation with links to the Governor General’s office.
The trend has big implications for Manitoba charities and non-profits, which need to reduce their reliance on aging donors and connect in better ways with younger generations.
In 2015, the most recent year for which Statistics Canada data are available, Manitobans donated an annual average of $420, compared to the Canadian average of $300.
A total of 24.6 per cent of Manitoba who filed taxes made donations. That percentage remains the highest in Canada, but the Manitoba figures are down from 25.8 per cent in 2010 and 27.9 per cent in 2005, declining faster than some other provinces.
As the new report points out, today’s younger people are giving less than the younger people before them. In 2014, donors aged 40 and older represented almost 78 per cent of donors, compared with 58 per cent in 1985. Millennials and Generation Y, who were born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, give fewer donations than previous generations.
Although the trend might be alarming to the charities and non-profits that are the bedrock of institutional compassion in Manitoba, perhaps it’s not surprising young adults are giving less. Many simply can’t afford it.
Relatively few Manitobans are graduating to the type of secure-career future that was common with past generations. Thanks to several factors, including technological advances that have replaced employees in many sectors, young Manitobans have less hope of finding stable careers that offer pension plans, benefits and paycheques sufficiently lucrative to permit donations to charities.
In the so-called gig economy, a growing number of young Manitobans must scramble to piece together contract work and part-time jobs that don’t offer security. Many likely feel they should be on the receiving end of charity, not the giving end.
The report offers suggestions to help charities broaden the donor base. Find better ways to engage with young adults and new Canadians. Ask people directly to donate. Do a better job of explaining the commendable ways charities impact Manitoba.
Another possible solution, although not mentioned in the report, is to have the federal government increase the charitable donation tax credit.
At stake is nothing less than Manitobans’ tradition of caring for each other. We want to remain a province defined not just by what we have, but what we give.
Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.
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