Stats Can recently released their Charitable Donors, 2019 report.   I have been critical of StatsCan in the past for their annual reports on charitable donations.   My concerns have been around equating claiming something on a tax return with being “generous” and also that in some years the amounts of abusive charity gifting tax schemes were huge (eg. $1.3 billion in 2006) and these illegitimate “donations” skewed the results tremendously.  The distorting effects of these abusive schemes are much less today (and in 2019) and the numerous caveats from StatsCan are better.   Funding of the charity sector is important and I am glad that Statistics Canada’s analysis and reports are better.

The highlight of the report is:

Total donations claimed on tax returns rose for the third consecutive year, up 3.6% from a year earlier to $10.3 billion in 2019. This general trend of fewer donors, countered by an increase in overall value of donations, began in 2010.

We don’t yet have total numbers for the 2019 T3010 returns but in 2018 receipted donations were about $18 Billion and it is probably similar for 2019.  These $18 billion in receipts are to individuals, trusts, corporations, foreign groups, etc.   Only $9 billion are claimed on individual tax returns and if a few billion is claimed by corporates it probably means about $4 or $5 billion in receipted amounts are not even claimed by Canadians.    So just be wary that receipted amounts on personal returns only give a part of the picture and Canadian contribute much more than these statistics seem to indicate.

It goes without saying that these numbers don’t tell us anything about the impact of COVID on the sector but as StatsCan notes it provides a baseline to compare 2020 numbers.