Canada leads world in recognizing philanthropy by every citizen

publication date: Nov 13, 2012
author/source: Janet Gadeski
"Having a National Philanthropy Day highlights to every citizen that they have the opportunity to make a difference," says KCI VP Karen Willson.  "This is a day for every Canadian to celebrate and participate."

The government would never have supported the bill's introduction, let alone passed it, she continues, if it had been focused on a small group of citizens. 

Willson shared her views with Hilborn Charity eNEWS after Bill S-201, sponsored by Senator Terry Mercer, passed its third reading in the House of Commons on November 5th. Royal assent is expected in the coming weeks. 

"I hope this bill will spur more Canadians to see how easy and important it is to give and volunteer, and how fulfilling and inspiring it can be to help our neighbours," Mercer commented. 

Affirms charities' right to ask for money 

The bill makes Canada the first country in the world to legislate permanent recognition of November 15th as National Philanthropy Day. Willson believes it brings distinction and credibility not only to the sector, but to donors and volunteers. And it validates that asking for money is an important part of their mandate.  

"With the passage of this bill, Canada has taken a leadership role in global philanthropy," declared a delighted Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals

Not just for the rich any more 

A commitment to celebrating generosity at any level from anyone runs through the excitement over National Philanthropy Day. The word "philanthropy," which once carried connotations of wealth, social position and large gifts, has become democratized as fundraisers, charities and donors themselves drive a greater and greater trend towards appreciating and relating to all givers. 

"On a personal note," says Willson of her consulting work with dozens of charities, "I hear on each of my capital campaign projects, ‘If everyone in our community would only give $10, we could purchase this piece of equipment for our hospitals, or have more scholarships in our post-secondary institutions, or build this new arena.' ... Can you imagine the difference Canadians would make if more people gave $10 to their favorite charities?  The impact to personal lives would be incredible." 

Small gifts, huge potential 

Last year alone, she continues, individuals in Canada gave over $8 billion to charities. With small donations by more people, that number could grow exponentially. 

Even 140 characters could create a gift, thanks to a contest presented by AFP with support from Telus. On November15th, people can tweet what they're doing to change the world to #npdTELUS. The five most inspiring, innovative and creative tweets will earn the senders a $500 contribution to the charity of their choice. 

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