"Whereas philanthropy is the spirit of giving without expectation of reward ...
Whereas Canadians continue to be inspired by the dedication of volunteers who devote themselves to improving the lives of others ... "
So begins the National Philanthropy Day Act, which, with its approval in 2012, made Canada the first country to formally recognize November 15th as National Philanthropy Day.
Politicians praised citizens' compassion and commitment to helping others, according to The Huffington Post, which also cited a government finding that Canadians volunteer 2.1 billion hours of their time annually.
This special day celebrates those who promote positive change in their communities – because every act of love toward humankind, no matter how small, makes a big difference.
A Canadian legacy of giving
The spirit of giving is strong nationwide. Consider the following findings from Statistics Canada:
- 82% of Canadians age 15 and older donated to a charity or nonprofit organization.
- From 2004 to 2013, the total amount of donations increased 23%, from $10.4 billion to $12.8 billion.
- 91% of people said compassion toward people in need was their main reason for making donations.
How can you celebrate National Philanthropy Day?
There are many ways you can honour the spirit of giving on National Philanthropy Day:
Attend local events: The Canadian Chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) hold luncheons, workshops and seminars across the country on November 15th. These events showcase the incredible achievements of charitable work and thank donors and volunteers of all types for giving back.
Nominate someone: Nominate donors or volunteers to be recognized as National Philanthropy Day honorees. By sharing stories of people that make a difference, you can inspire others to take up a cause.
Give back to your community: On November 15th, volunteer at a local organization or make a donation to a charity that is close to your heart. Join friends and family and get involved together to make an even bigger impact. You could also identify a need in your community and pledge to start a philanthropic effort to address it.
Teach your children: Talk to your kids about the importance of helping those in need. CanadaHelps suggests starting a donation jar with your child. Each time it fills up, they choose a charity they would like to donate to. You can do research together to find a charity based on your child's interests and hobbies.
Learn more: In addition to celebrating the spirit of giving, National Philanthropy Day aims to improve awareness and education about effective giving. Do your part by learning more about how you can make sure your charitable contributions support those in need.
The AFP has a helpful list of guidelines for giving effectively, including:
- Taking your time and doing your research to learn about the charities you are interested in, how they operate and how funds are relayed to those in need.
- Creating a giving plan including how much you will donate, when and to whom.
- Familiarizing yourself with the Donor Bill of Rights and the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards.
Philanthropy in the workplace
Employers have an opportunity make a positive difference in the world through corporate giving. Many surveys show that employees, particularly millennial ones, want to work for companies that demonstrate social responsibility and donate to charities.
There are many ways that companies can give back. They can host office-wide "volunteer days," or give employees paid time off to volunteer for organizations of their choosing. They can match all or specific employee charitable donations and they can even coordinate events to collect food, clothing or toys for local charities.
By having people come together to support a common cause, philanthropic acts can create a sense of "social cohesion," according to Statistics Canada. In this way, corporate giving can strengthen bonds between employees and improve engagement levels.
Share the love
Continue a strong tradition of giving on National Philanthropy Day. Join with family, friends, co-workers and community members to make a difference in the lives of others.