How to safely donate to charities in Alberta during COVID-19
By ATB Financial 8 June 2020 4 min read
Albertans have always been the kind of people who stand up and push through even the most difficult of times, and this pandemic is no different.
Many of us are still looking to give back and donate to charitable organizations across the province. In fact, according to Google trends, searches for "donate" reached an all-time high in April 2020 and "how to help others during coronavirus" searches increased by 3650 per cent during that same time.
The slowdown of our economy has led to a swift decline in revenues for Alberta’s not-for-profit organizations and charities, and many have had to make tough decisions to continue to survive and serve our communities.
Charities have put many measures in place to protect Albertans and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and many of these organizations have seen an increase in the demand for their services. They need our help. But how?
If you’re in a position to help financially, there are a multitude of ways to support your favourite organizations safely. We want to help you determine what way works for you, find legitimate donation opportunities and avoid financial scams in the process. After all, no one wants to fall victim to fraudulent activity while trying to do good.
To help you meet your giving goals we put together a step-by-step guide on how to safely donate to Alberta-based charities during COVID-19.
Step one—research before you donate
It’s simple enough to do a Google search for Alberta charities or find a company on social media asking for financial support. But sometimes, the better option is to head right to a site like CanadaHelps.org or ATB Cares to see what charitable organizations exist in Alberta.
From there, you can narrow down your search to charities that align with your values and goals. For example, if you’d like to support arts and culture or animal charities, you can flag those organizations in your search. You can also flag their locations, if you want to exclusively support local charities.
Before you donate, be informed. When you see a charity that you connect with, it’s always a good idea to do some further research before donating.
Most charities are transparent and share information about their finances through an annual report, which reveals where most of their donations go and what cause, specifically, your donation supports. Charities are required to share this information with their donors. If you can’t find an answer to one of your questions online, there’s nothing wrong with making a quick call and asking them directly.
Step two—confirm the charity is registered
Possibly one of the most essential steps in your journey to help is ensuring the charity you’ve chosen is registered. If an organization is registered to fundraise in Alberta, they’ll have a charitable registration number. This number is required by law for any charitable cause or organization to accept or raise money. According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), charities must put their full registration number on any official document, such as a donation receipt.
A charitable registration number means that the organization follows required guidelines to keep their charity in operation and issue donation receipts to donors. You can also find a full list of registered charities in Canada on the CRA’s website.
Step three—make a trackable, secure payment
When it comes to donations, the best way to give is through a trackable payment by credit card or cheque, directly to the organization. This way, you can track the payment through your account and ensure it was received by the intended organization.
When you’re donating online, you’ll want to confirm the website is secure. Look for https:// at the beginning of the web page address versus http://. The address bar will also display a small padlock or lock icon. This tells you that the information you provide and send on the website is secure.
Step four—consider available matching programs
Many companies and businesses are looking to help right now, and some are matching donations. If you plan to donate to a charity, consider researching donation platforms like ATB Cares that will match a certain percentage of your money and allow you to donate securely online. If you donate through ATB Cares, we’ll add an additional 20% of your donation to a maximum each year, making your donation that much more impactful.
To find charities in your local community, you can do a simple search on ATB Cares to see what Alberta organizations need your help. Charities that are officially registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency are automatically included on ATB Cares.
How do charitable tax receipts work?
Because CRA regulates registered charities under the Government of Canada’s Income Tax Act, they’re permitted to give donors receipts to claim on their annual income tax.
Any donations you make can be saved and reported on your tax return in the next five years—all you need is a donation receipt. Your donation receipt should state that this is an official receipt for taxes and include your full name and current address, the charity name, charitable registration number, donation amount and the date you made your donation.
Of course, giving doesn’t have to be monetary. There are other ways we can support local charities in our communities, including donating supplies, time, and using our personal social media platforms or networks to spread awareness.
Thank you, Alberta
Donations of all kinds are needed, and the fact that you’re here, educating yourself on all the ways you can help charities across Alberta says a lot about your desire to help others. Thank you for caring about our communities.
ATB's priority is to be here for Albertans. In April, ATB donated $250,000 to United Way agencies in Alberta to help where it’s most needed.
Visit ATB Cares to make a donation to a local charity in your community.
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