Corporations, Individuals Give Despite Tough Economic Times

By Joan Delaney
Joan Delaney
Joan Delaney
Senior Editor, Canadian Edition
Joan Delaney is Senior Editor of the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times based in Toronto. She has been with The Epoch Times in various roles since 2004.
December 18, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015

Corporations and individuals have not let the economic slump deter them from giving to charity. (Photos.com)
Corporations and individuals have not let the economic slump deter them from giving to charity. (Photos.com)
While Canada’s corporate sector has for the most part continued donating to charity despite the economic slump, prospects for 2009 are looking more precarious and officials in the fundraising sector are worried. 

However, Michael Hall of Imagine Canada, which promotes the role and interests of the charitable and voluntary sectors, says there are signs that many corporations may be able to stay the course in the coming year.

“I’m nervous because the economic situation is so uncertain, but we do have indications that many businesses are thinking about holding their own, and for them there may be an opportunity in this in terms of demonstrating their commitment to community during tough times.”

One such company is oil and gas giant EnCana, which has a healthy track record in charitable donations and community investment and follows Imagine Canada’s recommendation that corporations donate one per cent of pre-tax profits.

“I’m nervous because the economic situation is so uncertain, but we do have indications that many businesses are thinking about holding their own, and for them there may be an opportunity in this in terms of demonstrating their commitment to community during tough times.”“We just got the 2009 budget yesterday and charitable giving will remain as it has been. One big part of what EnCana values is giving to the communities, so it hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind to cut that portion of the budget by any means,” says EnCana spokesperson Rhona Del Frari.

For EnCana, one per cent has amounted to about $30 million per year for the last few years. The company also has its EnCanaCares program, in which it matches employee donations to charitable and non-profit organizations.

An October EnCanaCares campaign raised $4 million in all, benefiting 1300 charities. “This was actually 14 per cent more than in 2007,” says Del Frari.

David Cooper of Coopers Office Furniture in Toronto says the economic downturn won’t affect his philanthropic efforts because what he donates is his time “and that will never change.”

Coopers provides office furniture to charities and non-profits at just 13 per cent above cost. The company also sponsors STUFF Canada (Supporting Today’s Underprivileged For the Future) which provides a variety of goods to people in need with no money changing hands.

“We can handle a million to a million and-a-half dollars a month in donated goods which we broker, no charge,” says

 

“Once you’re committed to an endeavour and are passionate about it you find the time,” Cooper says. “This is building stronger community and specifically reducing poverty and homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area and it’s something I’m passionate about.”

Coopers provides office furniture to charities and non-profits at just 13 per cent above cost. The company also sponsors STUFF Canada (Supporting Today’s Underprivileged For the Future) which provides a variety of goods to people in need with no money changing hands.

“We can handle a million to a million and-a-half dollars a month in donated goods which we broker, no charge,” says Cooper. “Anything that people have in excess that they want to get rid of, we act as a broker. And we fill the wish lists from charities and not-for-profits with this excess.”

Non-profit and community oriented, STUFF also works to bring together businesses, industry and individuals in order to serve the needs of the charitable sector, at no cost to either donor or charity.

Businesses giving to charity directly as well as mobilizing and supporting their employees to contribute and fund-raise are the cornerstones of Imaging Canada’s program.

A major report released by Imagine Canada in October found that big corporations, those with annual revenues over $25 million, are “putting a lot more thought” nowadays into how and where to give.

While this helps charities, it also benefits the corporations which have figured out, Hall says, that there’s a business advantage to being socially responsible.

“If you’re a business that’s involved with consumer products there’s research that shows that consumers are increasingly choosing what products to buy based on the reputation of the company. The other thing is that businesses recognize that a healthy community is good for business and the fact that communities provide customers and clients and employees.”

This should bode well for corporate giving in the future. As for individuals, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of World Vision, while Canadians plan to cut back on gifts and other purchases this Christmas, 82 per cent said they will give as much or more to charity, in part because they realize the poor need their help even more this year.

Dave Toycen, president and CEO of World Vision Canada, said in a news release that the results of the poll are encouraging because Canadians are continuing to give despite feeling the pinch themselves.

“We’re confident that Canadians in general, and our donors in particular, will come through. We’ve already seen a 34 per cent increase in Christmas giving compared to this time last year.”

Joan Delaney
Senior Editor, Canadian Edition
Joan Delaney is Senior Editor of the Canadian edition of The Epoch Times based in Toronto. She has been with The Epoch Times in various roles since 2004.