Canadians often carry the stereotype of being polite and peaceful, but what about our generosity? According to the most recent Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, which was released in June, 84% of those surveyed reported giving a financial contribution to a charity in 2007, and another 10% of respondents donated their time. In other words, almost all Canadians (94%) made some type of contribution to charity.
Although age, household income, education level, employment status, sex, marital status and the presence of children in the household all affect whether and how much a person will donate to charitable causes, giving to charitable and nonprofit organizations also varies by province and territory.
So which Canadians are the most charitable? We scored provinces based on their donation rate and the average amount they donated on an annual basis to come up with the most charitable provinces in Canada.
Alberta's newest tourism slogan – Wish You Were Here – might ring true for charitable organizations as well. In the latest Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 85% of Albertans reported having donated to a charity or nonprofit organization within the past year. Albertans also donated an annual average of $596, far surpassing the Canadian average. With Albertans' charitable nature, its 8,000+ registered charitable organizations aren't likely to be left asking "where's the beef?"
This prairie province is the fifth-largest in Canada in terms of population according to the most recent Canadian census, but it ranks, second in our survey for generosity. Manitoba beat the national average both with its rate of donation (87%) and the amount the average individual donates per year ($520), a strong feat for a province in which the median family income of $58,700 falls well below the $63,600 figure for the country as a whole.
Although Ontario's donation rate dropped from 90% in 2004 to 86% in 2007, Ontarians donate and average of $501 per person per year to charity, helping this huge province climb up the list. Ontario also has a higher-than-average volunteer rate; 47% of survey respondents said they had volunteered their time. The national average is 46%. Ontario is also home to, Toronto, the city with the second-highest median donation in the country.
This very flat province's donation rates have been on a steady incline since 2004, rising from 82% to 84% in the most recent survey. Residents of Canada's "breadbasket" were also quite generous with their dough, doling out $512 per person per year, well above the $437 national average. This province also saw an increase in volunteering, from 54% in 2004 to 59% in the most recent Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating.
In the most recent Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 78% of Yukon residents donated to charity, giving an average of $530 per person per year. This small territory had a population of just over 31,000 in 2008, but it showed its heart by far surpassing the national average for personal annual donations. The Yukon also has the second-highest volunteering rate in the country.
- British Columbia
British Columbia ranks sixth in this list thanks to its high donation rate (79%) and high average yearly donation ($506). B.C. is also home to the census metropolitan area with the highest median donation: Abbotsford. This province is also host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, which will rely on the support of as many as 25,000 volunteers. Although B.C.'s volunteer rate increased by 2% over the 2004 survey, the average hours of time spent volunteering fell by 14% in 2007 compared to 2004.
- Prince Edward Island
PEI rounds out this list with its 89% donation rate and an average yearly donation of $449. This pastoral maritime province also saw a big jump in volunteer rates between 2004 and 2007, with the number of volunteers climbing almost 10%, from 47% to 56%, giving it the third-highest volunteer rate in the country.
- Northwest Territories
This cold northern territory ranks second on the list for its warm-hearted donors. Although donation rates declined substantially between 2004 and the most recent survey (from 79% to 68%), Northwest Territorians made up for this by donating a whopping $550 per person per year. This could be because this vast territory has one of the highest GDPs per capita, thanks to its natural resources, including gold, diamonds, natural gas and petroleum. Yet despite an average household income that's nearly double the national average, up to 50% of households have incomes of less than $30,000, according to the territory's government. For whatever reason, it looks like people in this territory help each other more than average: the Northwest Territories also has the third-highest rate of volunteering in the country, according to Imagine Canada.
Canadians' generosity could be determined in a number of different ways, and while some provinces are far ahead on some measures, they may also fall short on others. In other words, how generosity in itself is defined is up for debate. What can't be questioned is what recent statistics show: most Canadians fit charitable giving or volunteering into their lives. Maybe that's another stereotype the average "Joe Canadian" can embrace. (Learn more in Deducting Your Donations and It Is Better To Give AND Receive.)