Holiday donations down this year compared to last, some charities say
Imagine Canada says data shows many charities continue to suffer from ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
As the season of giving kicks off — with holidays right around the corner — some charities say donations and volunteers have slowed down this year, after an uptick in 2020, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"2020 was our best fundraising year, companies who couldn't do Christmas parties were looking for charities," said Sarah Rutka, co-founder of Holiday Helpers Canada.
"Those low income neighbourhoods were hit hard and I think Canadians especially here in the GTA realized that and wanted to help other people."
The charity provides Christmas packages and meals for low-income families in the GTA and Hamiton.
Rutka said the uptick in donations came from families who couldn't get together in 2020 and wanted to sponsor other families, as well as companies who were unable to throw holiday parties and instead sponsored or donated items.
This year, the organization will help in providing winter coats, Christmas trees and warm meals for more than 850 families.
On average only around 800 people are coming out to volunteer within a two week period whereas before the pandemic, that number would be anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500.
"If you have the means to give back to a family who might not have as much, I think this is the opportunity to do it," Rutka said.
"Giving back whether it be a single toy or sponsor a family for a Christmas meal i think it makes a big difference for the families who aren't going to be able to afford those things."
Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada, said many charities are still suffering as a result of the pandemic.
"Our data shows that about 40 per cent of individual donations come in in the last eight weeks of the year," MacDonald said.
"So it truly is the season of giving in Canada."
MacDonald said a national survey shows that revenues for half of the 1,219 charitable organizations surveyed are down an average of 44 percent.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic, charities were unable to hold in-person fundraising events.
"At the same time that there was a growth in online giving there was a 10 percent decrease in overall giving," said CanadaHelps Senior Vice President of Engagement, Jacob O'Connor.
But O'Connor said they are still seeing remarkable generosity from Canadians pointing toward last week's Giving Tuesday, a day that comes after Black Friday. He said that in that instance, the organization saw a six per cent increase in donations compared to last year.
The Salvation Army, however said that while this is typically its busiest time of the year for them, this year Giving Tuesday donations were down about 12 per cent as compared to last year
But the charity says the generosity has continued with individual and corporate donors to help those struggling during the pandemic.
"Throughout the pandemic, we've just seen an increase of requests for assistance," spokesperson Lt.-Col John Murray said. "That goes back 20 months, it's been continual, it's been ongoing."
Murray said the group has seen an increase of 11 per cent in requests for assistance, with 2.1 million Canadians helped in the 400 communities they cover.
"The Canadian public have been very generous to the Salvation Army during the pandemic. There is no question about that."
Most recently, the Salvation Army was able to raise $1.1 million to help those affected in B.C. by the floods, Murray said.
With files from Radio-Canada and Camille Gris Roy