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Fitting charity into your holiday budget

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If we’re being honest, we’re constantly being fed this message: we don’t have enough. We never have enough time, enough possessions, enough achievements, and yes, enough money. And we certainly don’t have enough to give to others. Or so we’re told.

Besides causing us to feel anxious, this scarcity message leads to us holding to what we have so tightly that we feel like we can’t afford to give. As Christmas approaches, are you open to a shift in perspective?

We caught up with Kathie Arychuk—Director of Corporate Giving and Strategic Partnerships here at ATB—to learn how we can practically integrate giving not only this holiday season, but on a regular basis.

There’s no shortage of causes to give to

As of 2003, there are more than 19,000 nonprofit and voluntary organizations in Alberta—so one thing you’re not short of are options of giving. Charities fall into the following categories:

  1. Sports & Recreation
  2. Grantmaking, Fundraising, & Volunteerism
  3. Social Services
  4. Arts & Culture
  5. Education & Research
  6. Development & Homelessness
  7. Health
  8. Environment
  9. Hospitals, Universities & Colleges
  10. Other

Donate digitally with online giving platforms

Online giving platforms like gofundme have risen in popularity. How do they stack up against traditional giving?

“People tend to support gofundme campaigns because it is for an immediate need for a small charity or a family in crisis,” explains Kathie. “The upside to these types of campaigns is that it's so easy to give. What you need to think about is if you want an income tax receipt—most gofundme campaigns aren’t for registered charities. And if that’s the case, that means you won’t get a tax receipt.”

If online giving is your thing, but you don’t know where to start, check out platforms like ATB Cares (we give 100% of profits to charities, plus have 15% matching to Alberta-based charities), Canada Helps and gofundme to find a variety of charities.

How to choose a charity

It gets personal. “People give to a charity for personal reasons,” shares Kathie, “they’ve received assistance from that charity, someone they know has benefited from that charity, they share a common interest with the charity.” And that’s how it should be! There’s a joy in investing in a cause with your money when you’ve already invested your heart. But the key to effective donating has more to do with the head.

“Be an informed donor,” encourages Kathie. “Do your research.”

“Many people tend to give with their heart, but they should also do their research to ensure that the charity aligns with their core values, is reputable, and the donor understands where their money is being directed to once it reaches the charity.” Although it takes a little bit of digging, research can clarify which charity is the best fit for your donations.

This includes asking some of the nitty gritty questions: is the charity registered with the province of Alberta? What about with the Canada Revenue Agency? “The only way to receive an income tax receipt for your donation is to donate to a CRA registered charity,” Kathie informs. Donations are tax-deductible in the calendar year they are made, however you should contact a tax professional to know how to best maximize your charitable giving for tax purposes.

What to look for in a charity (before you donate)

Here’s a little checklist of questions to ask yourself before clicking ‘donate now’:

  • What does the organization do for the community?
  • What specific projects are they doing?
  • How many people benefit from the services provided by the charity?
  • Where do they get their funding? For example, do they receive most of their funding from the government (Alberta, Canada) or do they rely solely or partially on individual donors?
  • How much of the donations go directly to the charity and how much is spent on administration costs?
  • If you go to a fundraising event, how much of your money is going to pay for the event and how much is going directly to the charity? The same rule applies when a charity is selling an item, like a calendar or chocolates.

Kathie also notes that you should make sure you’re writing a cheque to a charity and not an individual.

Feel like you can’t give? Here are some options

“Charitable organizations are always looking for volunteers. Some charities struggle with getting volunteers outside of the Christmas season.”

Another option—make small monthly donations. “Even $5 or $10 a month can make an impact—that's like giving up one coffee or take out lunch a month.”

Are you ready to shift your perspective, and start giving? We’d love to help you help others. We believe that charities deserve every dollar they’re given, which is why we make sure 100% of donations to Albertan charities made through ATBCares.com to directly to the organization. Let’s get giving together.

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ATB Financial

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