PEI

Low funds aren't stopping P.E.I. millennials from donating their time to Island charities

As the popularity of online donation platforms grows, the way Islanders are giving to charities is changing — and it has some non-profits on P.E.I. figuring out new ways to engage with young potential donors.

'I see that millennials do give, it may not always be a monetary donation but they certainly give their time'

'I see that millennials do give, it may not always be a monetary donation but they certainly give their time and talent. I think that's kind of the path to giving, isn't it,' says Amanda Beazley, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottetown and Montague. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

As online donation platforms become more popular, the way Islanders are giving to charities is changing — and it has some non-profits on P.E.I. figuring out new ways to engage with young potential donors.

"With an aging population it's hard to get younger people excited about donating to not-for-profits and charities," said Wendy MacIntyre, president of the board for the Lung Association of P.E.I.

'Tough place for charities'

In an interview earlier this month, MacIntyre told CBC online donation platforms like GoFundMe have also increased competition for donations.

MacIntyre said the association has seen a drop in donors over the years. 

She says some of that can be attributed to the limited demographics the organization has access to.

Amanda Beazley says millennials on P.E.I. are 'ready to put their shoulder to the wheel,' when it comes to charitable giving. (CBC)

In an effort to cut costs and keep offering their regular programs, the association has joined forces with the association in Nova Scotia.

"It's a tough place right now for charities," MacIntyre said.  

How to engage with younger donors is something that has also been on the mind of Amanda Beazley, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Charlottetown and Montague.

What kind of freed-up resources do  millennials  have to donate?- Amanda Beazley

"I think that having some more insight into where to reach them and how to reach them and how to engage with them is really important," Beazley said.

As far as monetary donations, she said, the Boys and Girls Club sees the most contributions coming from Islanders aged 50 and up.

But it doesn't necessarily point to an uncharitable millennial demographic, she said.

'Millennials do give'

"I guess one thing that I kind of take into consideration is what kind of freed-up resources do millennials have to donate?"

Beazley points out that many millennials want to donate their money but are faced with limited funds and are coming out of post-secondary school "in the red."

"I see that millennials do give, it may not always be a monetary donation but they certainly give their time and talent. I think that's kind of the path to giving, isn't it?"

Donating time over money

Beazley says even though millennials have a more challenging time in giving monetarily, they are an influential demographic on P.E.I. and are "ready to put their shoulder to the wheel as far as I'm concerned."

We're trying to take the pulse of P.E.I. We're trying to get a sense of what the main issues are.- Kent Hudson

She sees many millennials offering their time and their talents to initiatives even if they don't have the funds to spend.  

Beginning in February 2019, charitable organizations on P.E.I. and across Canada will be collaborating on the 2019 Vital Signs Report.

The research on P.E.I. will be led by the Community Foundation, said Kent Hudson, the executive director of the organization.

"We're trying to take the pulse of P.E.I. We're trying to get a sense of what the main issues are."

The Vital Signs Report will look at a broad range of issues facing charities on P.E.I. but will also focus on gathering information on "what makes millennials tick, in terms of giving" and how to help make that happen.

Making giving accessible

Hudson says becoming more present online plays a role in garnering more involvement from the millennial demographic.

"It's led us to an opportunity in some ways because we now accept online donations," he said.

The report is expected to be released in October 2019.

For Beazley, a part of the role of charitable organizations is to make giving accessible for everyone.

"With all the generations in our communities, there's a lot of ways and means that they can make a contribution that's going to make a really positive and lasting impact on their community," she said.

"And I do think that just being aware that it's not always money that pushes things forward is really important."

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About the Author

Sam Juric

Web Writer

Sam Juric is a journalist with CBC P.E.I. and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

With files by Matt Rainnie

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