(December 18, 2020) Roger Ali is a member of The Charity Report’s Literary Circle, where he regular reviews books for us. He is also a well-respected non-profit executive, a board member with Imagine Canada and secretary of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Global. He is concerned about how the pandemic has impacted donations to charities and is asking us all to consider the charities needing support and urging us to give. In his own words:
In the final weeks of an unprecedented year, I encourage you to think about the charities that need our financial support and how you can help. This means giving what you can, giving more creatively and giving in a way that is most beneficial for you, your family and the causes closest to your heart.
As a non-profit leader, I've had inspiring conversations with donors about their reasons for giving and why they want to support a cause or need. The truth is people give their time and money to the causes they are closest to.
Many donors give because they or someone they know has been personally affected by the cause of the organization or because of their personal beliefs or deeply held values. I have heard time and time again—the motivations for giving are due to:
- feeling compassion for those in need
- helping a cause they feel personally connected to
- wanting to make their community a better place to live
There is an abundance of social good happening around us. However, at this critical time, charities need our help to continue to keep their doors open and deliver even more social good. Many charities have had to pivot community fundraisers, events and activities, to a virtual experience with digital and other technology gaps and resource challenges, with some experiencing declining revenues.
I have seen first-hand there is an increase in demand for services as a result of the health crisis. Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor Study shows that 68 percent of charities have seen a decline in donations since the onset of the pandemic and are being asked to do more with less.
Furthermore, among Canadians surveyed in 2020 who are planning to make a holiday donation, 36 percent say they plan to give less. Not surprising, the survey showed seventy-one percent of those planning to donate a smaller amount say financial difficulties related to COVID is the reason.
This is grim news for some charities, but we can kick off the holiday season and show our generosity of spirit by supporting a cause we believe in. I have been asked several times: "How do I pick a charity to give to and how do I know they are making a difference in my community?"
Organizations such as food banks and shelters care for and support people who are most vulnerable and benefit significantly from food, clothing, personal items and cash donations.
The United Way invests in community support networks for human service agencies that deliver critical, prevention-based programs and services that improve lives and strengthen the community. A single donation has a greater depth and reach through The United Way for social services.
Community-based hospital foundations raise and manage funds for the purpose of supporting outstanding patient care and research. Your donation toward health care in your community goes a long way to fund essential equipment not covered through government funding and help improve the health-care needs for the full spectrum of life's journey.
Here are some tips to think about when considering making a gift as a family this holiday season:
- Talk to your family about what causes are important to you and who you should support
2. Involve your kids and ask them to help you to identify a charity that is important to them
3. Ask your entire family to contribute and make the gift as a family
4. Offer an incentive and match your child’s contributions
5. Learn about the charity you are making the gift to or consider volunteering
6. Lastly, send a note of gratitude to a neighbour you know is alone this holiday season
Ultimately, this is the time of year when we think about giving gifts, food, clothing and making charitable donations to help those less fortunate and support charities that do extremely important work to strengthen the fabric of our community.
I encourage you to think about what your family gift can be this season—whether it is time, talent or treasure. I give my time and through personal donations because it makes me feel good to know I am helping a cause that is important to me.
As we reflect on 2020, rather than blame or complain, let’s remember how essential fresh air, clean water, shelter, food and human contact are and remind ourselves what we can do this holiday season.
(Roger D. Ali is a non-profit executive, board member with Imagine Canada and secretary of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Global. @FundraiseRoger)
Also by Roger Ali
Joy at Work: Choosing what sparks joy April 24, 2020