Report: Affordability drives downward trend in charitable giving

B.C. charitable donors drop 20% over last five years

December 21, 2016, Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – The percentage of British Columbians making charitable donations dropped 20 per cent over the last five years, according to a new report by Vancity credit union.

The report, Less to Give: How affordability is impacting charitable giving in British Columbia, includes a survey of 800 British Columbians and looks at trends in charitable giving and the impact of affordability. One-third (32%) also report donating less money today compared to three years ago and of those, 82% attribute their reduced giving to financial factors like fixed or low income, the increased cost of living and the state of the economy.

Furthermore, British Columbians report significant concerns about the economy and their finances:

  • 81% say the affordability of housing in their area has gotten worse in the past three years
  • 69% say their family's income is falling behind the cost of living
  • 43% say their personal finances are worse than four years ago
  • 38% say affordability of housing has made them less willing to donate over the last three years

Despite this decline in charitable giving, 58% intend to maintain their commitment to the charities they care about and 40% say financially supporting charitable causes is a priority.

In terms of giving in the next year, only 6% plan to give more while roughly one-third plan to give the same (32%), one-third plan to give less (30%) and one-third have not thought about it much (29%).

Government transfers are a significant source of funding to the charitable sector, accounting for 21% of revenue in the core charitable sector and 51% of revenue in the broader charitable sector that includes universities and hospitals. Despite this investment, transfers from governments have been decreasing since the 1990s, placing a greater importance on individual contributions.

The report also examines volunteerism, finding that 38% of British Columbians volunteered for charities and not-for-profits in the last 12 months, on average 50 hours per year. In contrast to the decline in financial giving, volunteer time has remained steadier over the past three years with 66% still volunteering the same amount or more.

The report makes stop-gap recommendations for individuals, businesses and charities to help stabilize much needed donations and points to broader policy changes required to fund social services.

Note: an earlier version of this news release stated the percentage of British Columbians making charitable donations dropped 25 per cent over the last five years, that number has been corrected to 20 per cent.


“As the demand for charitable services is going up, the source of funding is shifting away from government onto individuals, and yet the number of individuals who are able to give is declining. We can encourage donations, but there are also larger issues with the social services system that need to be addressed at a broader policy level” Linda Morris, senior vice president at Vancity

Additional information


The survey of 800 British Columbians was commissioned by Vancity and conducted by Strategic Communications from November 7 to 13, 2016. All data is weighted to be representative of B.C. residents on gender and age, and a margin of error for a probability sample of this size would +/-3.5, 19 times out of 20.

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 519,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $19.8 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Tweet us @vancity and connect with us on

For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394


Share this page »

Related links