Fraser Institute News Release: Canadian generosity has hit a new low

Posted by on December 15, 2020 13:30
Tags: ,
Categories: CULTURE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Dec. 15, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The number of Canadians donating to charity—as a percentage of all tax filers—is at the lowest point in the past 18 years, and as a share of income the amount lags far behind what Americans give, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“The holiday season is a time to reflect on charitable giving, and the data shows Canadians are consistently less charitable every year, which means charities face greater challenges to secure resources to help those in need,” said Jake Fuss, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute and co-author of Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2020 Generosity Index.

The study finds that less than one-in-five Canadian tax-filers (19.4 per cent) claimed charitable donations on their tax return in 2018, the most recent year of available data, compared to more than one in four tax filers (25.5 per cent) back in 2000.

Collectively, the total amount donated to registered charities by Canadians—just 0.54 per cent of their income—is the second lowest amount since at least 2000. Over that period, Canadians’ generosity peaked at 0.72 per cent in 2006.

By comparison, American tax-filers donated 1.97 per cent of their income to registered charities in 2018—nearly four times the percentage Canadians claimed.

Moreover, the average dollar amount claimed in Canada in 2018 was $1,869 compared to $13,272 in the U.S. (in local currencies). And tellingly, the lowest average claim of any state—$6,507 USD in Hawaii—was more than double the highest average claim of any province—$2,776 CAD in Alberta.

Overall, according to the index of charitable giving for all 64 Canadian and American jurisdictions (including Washington, D.C.), Utah remains the most generous. Manitoba—which moved up from 44th (out of 64) in the 2019 Generosity Index to now 4th—is again the most generous Canadian province.

The increase in the provincial rankings should be taken with caution as at least part of the explanation is a tax change in the U.S. in 2018, which resulted in fewer Americans formally claiming charitable donations even though they may have made donations.

“Despite Canadian jurisdictions seemingly improving in this year’s Generosity Index, Canadians are still donating significantly less to registered charities than Americans, and that’s been the case for many years,” Fuss said.

Generosity of Canadian provinces and territories

(ranking in 2020 Generosity Index)
% of tax filers who claimed
charitable donations
Average dollar value of all
charitable donations
Manitoba (4 out of 64)22.4$2,163
Ontario (7)20.4$2,038
Prince Edward Island (8)20.1$1,456
Saskatchewan (10)19.6$2,229
Alberta (11)19.2$2,776
British Columbia (12)18.4$2,575
Quebec (15)18.7$781
Nova Scotia (15)17.9$1,475
New Brunswick (19)17.4$1,469
Newfoundland and Labrador (24)17.4$1,118
Yukon (25)15.6$1,649
Northwest Territories (45)11.8$1,681
Nunavut (63)6.4$2,161

NOTE: Table based on 2018 tax year, the most recent year of comparable data in Canada and the U.S.


  • Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers that donated to charity among the provinces (22.4%) during the 2018 tax year while New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador had the lowest (17.4%). Manitoba also donated the highest percentage of its aggregate income to charity among the provinces (0.78%) while Quebec donated the lowest (0.24%).
  • The general trend in recent years is that a declining percentage of Canadian tax filers are donating to charity and they are donating less as a percentage of income.
  • Nationwide, a higher percentage of tax filers donated to charity in Canada (19.4%) than in the United States (9.7%) in 2018. Conversely, Canadians (at 0.54%) gave a lower percentage of their aggregate income to charity than did Americans (at 1.97%).
  • The percentage of tax filers donating to charity varies significantly among US states and Canadian provinces and territories. All US jurisdictions, with the exception of Maryland and the District of Columbia, have a lower percentage of tax filers donating to charity than any Canadian province.
  • The percentage of aggregate income donated was generally less in the Canadian provinces and territories than in the US states. All US states, with the exception of West Virginia, gave a higher percentage of aggregate income to charity than any Canadian province or territory.
  • The top three subnational jurisdictions in the overall Generosity Index rankings are Utah (scoring 7.6 out of 10.0), District of Columbia (6.8) and Maryland (6.6). Manitoba is the highest-scoring Canadian province (5.6), moved up from 44th place (out of 64) in the 2019 Generosity Index into a tie for 4th with Georgia.
  • While some Canadian jurisdictions climbed substantially in the ranking of this year’s Generosity Index, it was not due to increased generosity in Canada, but rather to tax policy changes in the US that caused a dramatic decline in the percentage of tax filers with claimed charitable contributions.

Leave a Reply