When it comes to charitable giving, many Canadians face a dilemma: deciding how much they can afford to give and deciding where their charitable dollars will have the greatest impact.

Fortunately, we see this as a happy dilemma. After all, Canadians want to give, they’re just not always sure how best to do so. In this article, we aim to provide some clarity so that you and your fellow Canadians are in a better position to give with confidence.

Are you in a position to give?

Canadians are quick to offer a helping hand to those in need. The Thirty Years of Giving in Canada report found that 91% of those who donate to charities are motivated by compassion for those in need, and 82% want to contribute to their community.

This attitude is commendable. Yet to maximize the impact of your philanthropy and ensure peace of mind when making large donations, it’s important to assess your ability to give. Typically, this involves sitting down with a trusted advisor to make sense of your finances, ensure your financial needs are being met and determine how you can fit charitable causes into the big picture.

One way to frame this discussion is by thinking of your wealth in three broad categories:

  1. The money you live on and spend during your lifetime.
  2. The money you spend on others during your lifetime.
  3. The money you watch over before transferring it to the next generation.

With proper planning, you can easily identify the money you will need to live on and spend on others during your lifetime giving you a much clearer picture of how much you have to give to the causes you care about.

How do you choose a worthy cause?

Being in a position to give is worth celebrating – it means you have sufficient financial resources to meet your own needs while also helping others. However, it can also lead to uncertainty if you’re unsure where to direct your charitable dollars.

Such uncertainty is common. In the Thirty Years of Giving in Canada report, 29% of donors identified concerns about money not being used efficiently or effectively as a barrier preventing them from giving more while 12% reported difficulty finding a cause worth supporting.

The best way to overcome this uncertainty is to ask questions and do your homework before making a donation – especially if it is a large one. As a prospective donor, you have the right to know details about how your money will be spent, the expected impact it will have and the track record of the organization to which you are considering donating. For an added layer of confidence, you can also seek out charities that are accredited, such as through Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.

Embracing the joy of giving

If you want to give with confidence, start by gaining clarity regarding your financial situation and your options for making impactful donations. Doing so will help you embrace the joy that comes with driving positive change.

We can all play a role in strengthening our communities across Canada and helping those in need. And there’s no better time to start than at the end of one rewarding year and the start of a promising new one.