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How will you pay it forward?

publication date: Dec 2, 2014
author/source: Roger D Ali

Today is GivingTuesday, the second annual day that encourages people to give back in any way they can. It is a day when charities, companies, groups and individuals join together to share commitments, show support for favourite causes and think about how to give to others.

This year, the emphasis is on the concept of great giving. This means giving smarter, giving more creatively and giving in a way that is most beneficial for you and the causes closest to your heart. On the GivingTuesday website,, there is a toolkit with great resources to Great Giving. It helps you to identify charities to give to, research the impact of your gift, and learn new ideas to sustain your gift and become more involved with the charity you support. I encourage you to take a look and share with your donors and volunteers. I also came across a blog on the website on 'Thoughtful' vs. 'Thoughtless' Giving which made me think about the people that I am in contact with on a day to day basis.

As a non-profit leader, I have significant conversations with donors about their reasons for giving and why they want to make a difference to a cause or need.  The truth is that people give their time and money to things in their lives that they are closest to. I have heard time and time again the motivations for giving is due to feeling compassion for those in need, wanting to help a cause in which the donor personally believes and wanting to make a contribution to make the community a better place to live. It is also true that donors give because they or someone they know has been personally affected by the cause of the organization or because of their personal or religious beliefs.

A solid majority of Canadians will show their generosity of spirit this holiday season by giving to charity, but many are overly concerned that their donation will support overhead, according to a survey by Leger on behalf of Imagine Canada. The survey, which examined holiday season charitable giving and attitudes about charitable donations, found that 62% of Canadians intend to donate to charity over the holidays. Eight-in-ten (81%) cited “helping the less fortunate” as their motivation to give. According to the Canada Revenue Agency, there are more than 86,500 charities registered in Canada. How do you know which charity to give to? There is no easy answer, but there are ways to make intelligent and informed choices about your giving.

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. United Ways, the social safety net, invests in community support networks of 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.

Community based hospital foundations raise funds and manages donor gifts for the purpose of supporting outstanding clinical and patient care and research. Your donation to health care in your community goes a long way to help improve the health care needs for the full spectrum of life’s journey. The list of worthy organizations is endless, including too many to mention in this article. To find more information about a specific charitable organization, visit their website. To learn more about the transparency and accountability practices in Canada, you can find financial information about a registered charity by visiting Canada Revenue Agency’s site.

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 and non-profit organizations that do extremely important work to strengthen the fabric of our community. I encourage you to think about your gift this season whether it is time, talent or treasure. I give of my time and personal donations because it makes me feel good to know I am helping a cause that is important to me. Rest assured that it does make a difference.

Ask yourself the question, how will you pay it forward?

Roger D. Ali, President (volunteer), Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Horseshoe Chapter and the Vice President, Development, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation

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