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U.S./world – Canadian giving – Small core of donors

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By Todd Cohen

Canadians on average are giving more to charity, although more slowly than their incomes are growing, a new survey says, while fewer Canadians are volunteering, although the average volunteer is contributing more time.

And only a handful of Canadians account for the bulk of donations and volunteer hours.

Those are among the findings in the second National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating by Statistics Canada, an arm of the Canadian government.

The survey, first conducted in 1997 and to be repeated in 2003, was based on a representative sample of 14,724 Canadians 15 and over.

The value of giving – both money and in-kind contributions – totaled $5 billion in the year ended Sept. 30, 2000, up 6 percent from 1997 after counting inflation.

An estimated 22 million individuals, or 91 percent of those 15 and over, gave to charity – about the same level as in 1997.

Most of the total given, or $4.9 million, was donated by 78 percent of people making direct financial donations.

The top fourth of donors, or those giving $213 or more, accounted for 82 percent of all donations.

Individuals on average gave $259 in 2000, up nearly 8 percent from $20 in 1997.

During the same time, however, average household income grew 16 percent. 

Roughly 6.5 million people, or 27 percent of those 15 and older, volunteered their time in 2000.

That was down 1 million people from 1997, when 31 percent of the population volunteered.

Volunteers contributed a total of just over one billion hours in 2000, down 56 million hours from 1997.

Total volunteer hours would equal 549,000 full-time, year-round jobs.

The average volunteer clocked 162 hours in 2000, up from 149 hours in 1997.

The top fourth of volunteers, or 1.6 million people, contributed an average of 471 hours in 2000, accounting for 73 percent of all hours volunteered.

That was up from 431 hours contributed by the 1.9 million volunteers in the top fourth in 1997. They accounted for 72 percent of all hours volunteered.

Fewer than one in 10 Canadians gave 46 percent of all donations and 40 percent of all volunteer hours.

The level of giving and volunteering differed with age.

Average giving grew faster among young people and fell among the elderly, while all age groups volunteered less, with the elderly contributing the most hours on average and young people the least.

Average donations grew to $118 from $79 among those 15 to 24 years old, and to $229 from $159 among those 25 to 34, while falling to $308 from $328 among those 65 and older.

The volunteer rate fell among all age groups, including a plunge to 30 percent from 37 percent among those 35 to 44 years old.

Methods of giving money also changed.

Donors in 2000 made 20 percent fewer gifts in response to door-to-door canvassing.

More donors are deciding in advance how much to give and which organizations to support, and slightly fewer donors expect to regularly support the same group.

Donors with a university degree still give the most, $480 on average, although the share of university graduates who donated to charity fell to 84 percent in 2000 from 90 percent in 1997.

Religious groups received $2.4 billion in 2000, or 49 percent of all giving, down from 51 percent in 1997.

The share of individuals supporting religious groups fell to 32 percent in 2000 from 35 percent in 1997.

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