Posted by & filed under Board of Directors, Leadership/Management, Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications.

Amy Eisenstein, MPA, ACFRE

Consultant, Tri Point Fundraising 

Are you as happy as you could be at work? Do you have good work habits? Think of how much more you could accomplish (and raise) if you adopt a few proven strategies to not only to survive, but to thrive at your organization.

photo credit: Mykl Roventine via photopin cc

.         photo credit: Mykl Roventine

Two Key Strategies

There are two strategies that will help you lead a happier life AND excel at raising major gifts. Two birds with one stone.

  1. Think Happy Thoughts
  2. Build Better Habits

.Happiness, Habits, and Major Gift Fundraising, one of my sessions at Congress, covers these key strategies.

1. Think Happy Thoughts

It has been well documented that meaningful work, happiness, and productivity are all interconnected. In other words — if you’re doing meaningful work you’ll be happier, and if you’re happier you’ll be more productive. But as you know — perhaps even from your current job — sometimes even the most meaningful work can be stressful, tedious, and discouraging.

The good news for us is that a study called the Happiness at Work Survey showed that people who work in caregiving or direct service are 75% more likely to be happy. That includes a lot of people in the nonprofit sector. Of course, as fundraisers, we’re not always on the front lines, but we’re pretty close. So how can we change to make ourselves as happy as the people on the front lines?

  • It starts with positive thinking

I am a true believer in the power of positive thinking. If you think you can, you can. I assure you, this is not a case of “wishful thinking” — there’s actually science behind it. So, what if when we’re asking for a major gift, we expect the best, instead of assuming the worst? How might you act differently if you expected the very best?

  • Happier people are more generous

Another reason to “Think Happy Thoughts” is that happy people give more to charity. That’s pretty important information for you to have as a fundraiser. Harvard Business School produced a working paper called Feeling Good About Giving, which showed: “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier.” Incredible! The more you give, the happier you are, and the happier you are, the more you give. How awesome is that? And doesn’t it make sense that happy people would want to be around other happy people? So if you’re happy, it’s more likely that your donors will want to be around you. That’s pretty important for major gift fundraising.

2. Build Better Habits

According to current research, in order to break an old habit and create a new one, you need to find a reward to help you feel happy about whatever you’re trying to create as your new habit.

  • Make a habit of meeting with donors

One of the bad habits many development directors have is working from their desks, instead of being out, meeting with donors. How can you have relationships with your donors from behind your desk? You may feel stuck at your desk and overwhelmed with work. But being stuck at your desk is only a habit or work pattern — and it can be broken. Once your make getting out and meeting with donors on a regular basis a top priority — that will become your habit. It’s not easy, but the long-term payoff is huge.

  • Properly train your board members

Another bad habit your organization may have is recruiting and training board members without any expectation of fundraising. It’s something I run into all the time. It makes me sad when board members haven’t been recruited properly or trained, and then are expected to raise funds. So if one of your organization’s bad habits is recruiting board members without the expectation of fundraising, or not providing your board members with ongoing fundraising training, I strongly encourage you to replace your bad habits. Change the culture of your board and organization by starting to recruit and train your board members properly. Download this board member expectation form from my website.

  • Reinforcing your good habits

As I mentioned, in order to eliminate bad habits and reinforce good habits you need to reward yourself. So, after you get out and meet with your donors or recruit a new board member with a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, what can you do to reward yourself and reinforce the new habit? It doesn’t have to be big: It can be a walk around the block, listening to your favorite song or even dancing around the office. Of course, we’ll go into much more depth at Congress, so I hope to see you there.

You’ll find more super-useful tips for becoming a better fundraiser and building a better board in my complementary eBooks Simple Things You’re NOT Doing to Raise More Money and 6 Essential Secrets for Board Retreats that Work.

Best wishes for your fundraising success!

Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is a respected author, speaker, and fundraising consultant, as well as the owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service nonprofit consulting firm. Her specialty is simplifying the fundraising process for her followers and clients. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

Posted by & filed under Announcement.

 

The Fall 2014 digital issue of Advancing Philanthropy is now available. To read your issue, simply click here!

Learn how to keep your organization in shape with the Fundraising Fitness Test (FFT).Fundraisers are skilled at understanding the motivations of donors, but are they equally attuned to their own emotions and intentions before they walk through a donor’s door? Is that even important? Maybe more than you think. The psychology of giving has long been of interest to fundraisers, but until recently, there has been comparatively little empirical or even anecdotal research about the psychology of the people who make the ask.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Career Development, Inspiration, Mentorship, Networking.

Leah Eustace, ACFRE

Chief Idea Goddess, Good Works

tweetcottage

Has anyone ever done a research study into the general health of fundraisers? If so, I’d love to know about it. I’ve long suspected that we probably suffer more than the rest of the population from heart disease, mental illness, and stress-related disorders.

Why? Well, we’re a naturally giving bunch. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and we feel deeply. It’s what drew us to this work, and what makes us good at it. But the flip side is that many of us work particularly long hours, don’t take enough time for exercise and say yes to a lot of (too many?) volunteer opportunities.

What we don’t do enough of us is take quality time for ourselves, with each other, where we’re free from judgment, can say what’s on our mind, can ask for help, and can freely express our opinions.

Yep, I’m talking group fundraiser therapy. I’m a big fan of it.

For the last three years, I’ve been getting together on a regular basis with a dynamic group of female non-profiteers. We spend a long weekend every summer at a cottage (where anything goes, and we fit a little pro-bono work in, too). We get together at a women’s only spa the day before Congress every year (just message me if you’re interested in joining us for #TweetSpa). And, we even have a private Facebook group where we can ask and say anything that’s on our mind (this is particularly great for our small shop friends, who can run fundraising ideas by the rest of us, ask for a second set of eyes on fundraising plans or letters, or just generally rant about such things as dysfunctional boards… not that those exist ;)).

It’s one of the best things in my professional and personal life, and I think the idea should spread. What’s stopping us from gathering many a group of like-minded fundraisers for group therapy and group support? How about you men get together for #TweetScotch? Or how about we spread my good friend, Paul Nazareth’s, #NetWalk idea across the country (just tweet him @UInvitedU for details)?

I task each and every one of you to pull together your therapy group during Congress. Go out for a drink together, grab dinner, or head to the spa. I PROMISE, it will be good for you, mind, body and soul.

staff_leah (2)Leah Eustace, ACFRE, is Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works. She and Scott Fortnum, ACFRE, will be presenting on the Psychology of Giving at Congress on Monday, November 24th at 2:00pm. Leah will be feeling very zen, having attended #TweetSpa the day before. You can follow her on twitter @LeahEustace, or send her an email at leah@goodworksco.ca

Posted by & filed under Analytics, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Next Generation Philanthropy, Social Media.

Philip King, Founder, The Donation Funnel Project

You’ve probably heard about the new Apple watch, but don’t plan to buy one soon. Unless you’re super geeky, and if so please see me after one of my presentations at this year’s Congress!

But I’ll bet you’ve upgraded your smartphone in the past 18 months.applewatch

Did it hit your radar that Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion earlier this year? Wonder why a social networking company would pay so much for a messaging app that is popular in Africa and India? The world is changing, particularly from a marketing and communications perspective, and it is becoming harder to get anyone’s attention, including donors.

Let’s consider your new smartphone: I’ll bet you spend more time on it than you did on your old one. In fact, I’ll bet you read your email pretty easily now on that small screen. You may even spend more time on Facebook than you did when Facebook was a desktop/laptop-only experience for you. And with recent upgrades to the cellular data speeds you spend more time using your mobile browser to visit websites, often linked from your email or Facebook.

If you’re having this experience, it’s not hard to imagine that your donors are too. Of course you’ll have all sorts of demographic tribes in your donor base: young/old, male/female, rich/not-so-rich. And these tribes will all behave in slightly different ways. But one thing is for sure: they’re all going mobile!

I’ll jump straight to the punchline: take out your smartphone. Go to your charity’s website. Make a $5 donation.

How did that feel? For most of you not so great. Still using only your smartphone try registering for that run/walk next month, or buying tickets to the gala dinner. You get the point. Our websites haven’t kept up with our donors’ handheld technology. Even websites that are “responsive” can be clumsy to use and result in “bounce” or an “abandoned visit”: two of the most dreaded terms for online fundraisers.

Now fast forward to the not-too-distant future and imagine when donors start reading their email, checking Facebook and visiting websites on their watch… Last year we could comfort ourselves and say “that’s OK, most of our donors visit our website or Facebook page on their laptops or desktops.” But for many fundraisers this changed in 2014. The mobile tipping point has already passed, or will happen sometime in the next 12 months. Try this: get your team to estimate which month your “tipping point” will occur for your organization: the month at which most of your website audience will view you through a mobile device.

If you’re interested in topics like this I hope you’ll join me for one of my sessions at Congress, and we’ll discuss questions such as:

  • How much lower are average smartphone donations compared to laptops and tablets?
  • Who is doing a great job with mobile communications, and what does that look like?
  • What opportunities will mobile give us to find new donors and new dollars?

Philip King is the founder of The Donation Funnel Project: an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. Prior to that he has a long and successful track record as a digital fundraiser as the President and CEO of Artez Interactive, VP of Mobile for Cornerstone, and VP of E-Business at the United Way of Greater Toronto. He has worked with some of the world’s leading fundraising teams including Comic Relief in the UK, Leukaemia Foundation in Australia, UNICEF and SickKids Foundation in Canada, and the Humane Society of the United States. Philip will be presenting at Congress 2014 and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilipKingIV

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Siobhan Aspinall, CFRE
Senior Manager, Major Gifts, Junior Achievement of British Columbia

At Congress this year, I’m going to talk about involving non-fundraising staff in donor stewardship. You’d be crazy not to! So let’s think about who to take on that next donor visit and how to make them successful.

In the past, I was guilty of defaulting to the chiefs. I’d automatically bring along a board member, maybe even the chair or my CEO.

But if donor stewardship is about showing people the impact of their gift, then why not go straight to the source and bring along a person who actually delivers your programs? They might not be as polished as the CEO, but I bet they’ll be more interesting – mainly because they are so much closer to the work.

Don’t get me wrong – I know this approach can backfire. There’s maybe a very good reason that we don’t often invite the programs team along for sensitive visits as you can’t possibly prep them for every question or comment that might come up. However, I think it’s worthwhile to try. Start with these tips to set up your colleague for success on a donor visit:

  1. Book your program colleague for an informal briefing a couple
    of days before the donor meeting.12177981144_bd277b7ea4
  2. Tell them about the donor – how much they’ve given, what their interests are, and above all, what kind of personality they have.
  3. Emphasize more than once that the visit is informal and that we’re not going to ask for money.
  4. Do a bit of a role play. The fundraiser should start, as she has the relationship. Then let the donor talk, then cue up the program person.
  5. Have a signal for your colleague to let them know when they’ve said enough on a given topic. Let them know this is
    necessary because it is SO important to let the donor talk too. (I had a system with one scientist where I’d put my pen down on the table. He stopped so abruptly the first time we did it, it was like someone had punched him in the neck. We improved over time!)
  6. Figure out a “leave.” What’s the follow up we will offer when we close the meeting? An advance look at a pending report? A promise to send along an event invitation? Make sure it’s never just “goodbye.”
  7. Write a thank you for your program colleague to send from her email address (with you cc’ed) encouraging the donor to get in touch directly with any questions or comments. This creates a nice value add where you’re giving your best supporters exclusive access to the change-makers of the organization.

And don’t forget to tell your colleagues why this is so important. At the end of it all, we are looking to secure more funds for their work!
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Siobhan has been fundraising for over 15 years for organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and United Way. She is currently the Senior Manager of Development at Junior Achievement working primarily in grant-writing and major gifts. She teaches fundraising courses at BCIT, consults, and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She holds a BA in from UBC and an Associate Certificate in Fundraising Management from BCIT. She writes for her fundraising blog at siobhanaspinall.com and surfs in Tofino. Siobhan will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

Posted by & filed under Major/Planned Gifts, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

David Kravinchuk

Chief Advice Dispenser, Fundraising Pharmacy

There is one powerfully simple way you can instantly begin creating healthy, effective and rewarding long-term donor relationships:

Ensure your donors can easily find the name, phone number and email address of a real live person that can help them with an enquiry, complaint, compliment or even a donation. Then invite them to use this information.  Invite them to call, email or pop by. For any reason.

Does your charity direct donors to call a toll-free or auto-attendant line instead of a real person who can help?  Or do you invite donors to email info@charitymeh.com on your Planned Giving webpages?  If so, this is what you are really saying to donors desperately trying to connect to a human being at your organization.

Does your charity direct donors to call a toll-free or auto-attendant line instead of a real person who can help? Or do you invite donors to email info@charitymeh.com on your Planned Giving webpages? If so, this is what you are really saying to donors desperately trying to connect to a human being at your organization.

Next, make sure this information is everywhere your donors’ eyes are… thank you letters, direct mail reply/donation forms, annual report, newsletter, brochures and on every single page of your website.

Why?

  • Donors won’t just figure it out.
  • It speaks volumes that your organization is thoughtful and takes donor relationships seriously.
  • Most donors will never call, email or pop in, but there’s a comfort and trust factor knowing that they can.
  • You will create a culture shift to focus on donor needs and service.
  • You will build loyalty and loyal donors are incredibly valuable (monthly, midmost and bequest donors usually start as loyal donors).

The simplicity of this gesture belies its power. It can deliver millions to your organization long term.

Take a few minutes now and find the places you can make this change quickly and easily. Then take a few more minutes tomorrow to make sure it happens. You’ll be prepared to really maximize that massive effort you’re putting into your fundraising this busy holiday season.

It’s an incredibly effective way you can show your donors the respect and love they deserve.

Passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The MS Society of Canada, The Sunshine Foundation of Canada and Community Living Toronto. Earlier, David was the Senior Philanthropic Counsel at Good Works where he was responsible for a legacy marketing client roster that included Red Cross, UNHCR and Canadian Cancer Society. Follow David on Twitter  @DavidKravinchuk and join his session on annual giving at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

Posted by & filed under Crowdfunding, Gamification, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Next Generation Philanthropy.

Angela Simo Brown – Director of Social Change Strategy and Co-founder

AIR MILES for Social Change, AIR MILES Reward Program/LoyaltyOne

Gamification is here to stay – and charities would do well to use this concept to make giving fun. It is important for charities to capitalize on our human habits and desires in order to grow donations in a shrinking donor base environment. We like games, we like our phones, and we like being winners. We also are looking for purpose and meaning and how we can make a difference. Mobile gamification for charitable causes can give us what we need.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either. Instead of building a game from scratch, charities should look to a corporate partner to co-create the solution. One example is mobile game developer XEOPlay who created Tilt World, a game that helps to reforest Madagascar. Points earned in the game translate to tree seeds purchased for and on behalf of the tree-planting charity WeForest. XEOPlay’s goal is to plant 1 million trees in Madagascar, which is suffering from the effects of deforestation. Another example is Games for Good, who donates a fraction of a cent to charity every time you play their games. Or more simply, it can be a voting game, like Fido and Evergreen’s 2011 ‘Share Your Care’ program. Fido donated $100,000 that was divided between 20 different local environmental projects based on Canadians voting online for their favourite project.gamification

AIR MILES for Social Change has been partnering with different charities for the past 4 years by using reward miles as a carrot to increase giving and engagement with nonprofits. We infused gamification and behavioural economics motivational concepts into these initiatives with good success and have learned a lot in the process. Here is a list of top 5 lessons we’ve observed on how charities can best engage with today’s donor:

  1. People give to be personally recognized, not necessarily because they are emotionally connected to the cause: People like to be seen giving – in fact for many nowadays this is the main reason they give. They want their peers to see the good they have done, and some are defining their giving as a social measure of their personal success. So a tax receipt and thank you letter just aren’t enough anymore. Charities need to make sure that they are giving the types of recognition that people want today, and often social media recognition to the most cost-effective tool to use.
  2. People give to support their friends vs the cause more than ever: Fundraisers where donors reach out to their network have been around for years. These programs are generally more successful because people like to support their friends. The next evolution of fundraising is in driving more value from peer-to-peer donor networks. Crowdfunding is exploding. See the amazing success of pooling platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Causevox. Charities should piggyback off of these platforms and capitalize on their popularity.
  3. People want frequent touch points of thanks and celebration for their giving: Social media has trained us all to expect frequent virtual hugs and celebration by way of badges, trophies, congratulations and thank yous. We want to be told all the time how good we are. Rightly or wrongly, these are the new table stakes and charities need to give this recognition and appreciation to their donors more frequently. The thanks and recognition can be small, fleeting, and inexpensive to deliver at a regular cadence via social media.
  4. People want experiences to be social and fun: Gamification is one way to do this, as well as events where donors can be active participants, plus consumer-led social media movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge. Although movements are a fleeting and time-limited way to fundraise, the way that people engaged with the Ice Bucket campaign is different than ever before. Making giving into a game has proven to be a great way to engage a high number of people across multiple demographics and regions, and is an emerging trend that charities can’t afford to ignore.
  5. Youth want to make a difference hands-on: Youth want to tangibly experience the difference they are making, and just making a donation to an organization to do the work for them doesn’t suffice for this cohort. They want to donate their time, energy, spirit and dollars to grassroots organizations, and the most successful programs are going to be led by youth. See the popularity of giving initiatives such as community Giving Days, or PhilanthroTeens.” In addition to the hands-on experience, youth want to be able to share their experiences with others.  Social media and games are the best way to engage the new youth donor segment.

The other key success factor is of course, mobile. People love their phones and the more they can do with their phones the more they will engage with your brand and the cause.

A megatrend of our time is that people are actively looking for new and impactful ways to make a difference. Charities offer up all the things we are looking for but they need to proactively shake up the way giving is done today. Gamification, crowdfunding and behavioural economics will be three key elements for successful, fun and rewarding giving programs of the future.

AngelaSB

Angela leads the shared value, cause marketing strategy and program development for the AIR MILES Reward Program, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. Under Angela’s leadership, AIR MILES has developed over 25 innovative program partnerships across the public, nonprofit and private sectors that have driven record increases in positive behavior change in healthy living, energy conservation and increased transit use. An engaging speaker, Angela has spoken at many conferences about the power of creating shared value using social change and cause marketing strategies.

Posted by & filed under Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

Gayle Goossen

President and Creative Director, Barefoot Creative

I am a storyteller.

I personally write hundreds of appeals and newsletters every year. I love crafting a fundraising offer – it is personal, attention-gripping and, yes, it can be transformational. But let me share a tiny insight – a challenge I run into almost every day.

Fundraising organizations exchange organizational information for the power of a story. I have no idea why. We know that a story engages far more centres in the brain. We know that a story invites the readers to read more. We know that stories motivate compassion and response.

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                                                   photo credit: Enokson

It seems to me fundraising organizations should be champions of storytelling.

Perhaps it comes from the misnomer that education happens in a lecture. I’m not sure who started that myth. I know that educators world-wide perpetuate it. But it is simply not true. Current studies in brain response to story affirm the power of storytelling

As a young student I attended two graduation exercises. The same speaker spoke at both of them. Idealist that I am, and the fact that there was significant overlap in the audience, I expected him to deliver 2 different speeches.

But he didn’t.

Fascinatingly, I didn’t catch on until his first story. Then, as I listened more attentively, I realized that he hadn’t bothered to change anything. I only remembered the story. It seemed to me that he would have been brilliant if he had simply replaced the story – no one would have known. The most poignant memory of his speech was the story.

The story challenges the listener or reader to link analogies, discover the journey, build the bridges between characters. Most of all, the story introduces us to people who are  like us and not like us – but just enough like us to make us interested in their lives. Listeners and readers immediately begin to solve the story’s core problems, cheering for the hero and booing the villain. The brain imagines the scene, the character, the problem and the solution.

The great storyteller begins with an innate sense of curiosity. The storyteller is on a quest to understand why and who and how and what and where. They want to understand the poignant details. (Join me at the national AFP conference…. I’ll share concrete examples there)

My husband just doesn’t get it. Seriously (but then, he’s not a story teller). When he gets off the phone with his mother – I have about 57 questions. Did he think to ask one of them? Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it got the story. (More at the conference… )

Your depiction of the people in the story must be human – even if they live in another country, there are thousands of ways they can relate to your audience. You need to find them in your neighbourhood, down your street, in the mall… you can make them human by the way you describe them. As the longevity and universal appeal of Shakespeare has illustrated many. Many times – the human story has not changed all that much.

As a writer/fundraiser/ storyteller you tell some extremely difficult stories. That is a distinct gift. Hone it!

Gayle is the founder and president of Barefoot Creative. For more than 20 years she has been walking alongside nonprofits, helping to develop and implement fund raising strategies that inspire donors to engage and contribute. Her academic background and graduate degree in Canadian Literature and Post-Modern Critical Theory inspire a unique approach to applying foundational fund development and marketing strategies to help non-profits grow. She will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Announcement.

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TORONTO, ON (September 12, 2014) – The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Philanthropy Awards. The Chapter has honoured leadership in philanthropy through its annual awards program since 1995. This year’s group of extraordinary recipients will join a long list of generous Canadians. The 2014 honourees are:

  • Marcel A. Desautels, Outstanding Philanthropist
  • Bill and Susanne Holland, Outstanding Philanthropists
  • Judy Matthews, Outstanding Volunteer
  • Avon Canada, Outstanding Corporation
  • Kin Canada, Outstanding Group or Foundation
  • Sarah Jordan and Claire Jordan, Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy
  • Toronto Summer Music, Mo Davies Small Organization for Excellence in Fundraising
  • Denny Young, CFRE, Outstanding Fundraising Professional

“Philanthropy is the fabric that binds our society together. So many critically important initiatives simply would not happen without the generosity of donors and passionate volunteers. This year’s award recipients stand as an example of that,” said Susan Horvath, CFRE, Chair AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Philanthropy Awards Selection Committee. “By putting their creative ingenuity, powers of persuasion, strategic skills and generosity to work, this year’s Philanthropy Award recipients have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to our community and have empowered others to meet challenges and overcome obstacles.”

These awards celebrate the outstanding contribution of time, leadership and financial support of a special group of Canadians who set new benchmarks of excellence in the acts of giving and volunteering. The 2014 recipients will be honoured at the Philanthropy Awards Luncheon from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building, as part of Congress 2014, the Greater Toronto Chapter’s annual conference. Please visit the Philanthropy Awards website to view award categories and past recipients.  

About the AFP

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) was established in 1960. It represents 30,000 members in more than 232 chapters in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and China, and works to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and certification programs. The Greater Toronto Chapter was established in 1994 and is the largest chapter in the world with over 1,300 members. For more information please visit www.afptoronto.org.

Media contact: Cynthia Quigley at 416-941-9212 or cquigley@afptoronto.org.

 

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Announcement, Government Relations, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications.

Recently, Andrew Coyne penned this column in the National Post focused on the policing of political activities of charities. Coyne concluded that the best means of addressing the situation is to “take away the charitable tax designation—not selectively, based on their ability to dance on the head of a CRA pin, but across the board, outright.”

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) finds this conclusion fundamentally flawed. The charitable tax designation and the tax credit represent a gesture of confidence on the part of the people by way of their elected representatives, an acknowledgement of the effectiveness of nonprofit and community action and a commitment to the longstanding tradition of philanthropy in Canada.

The charitable tax designation and the tax credit bind together the interests and concerns of all of us in the betterment of our society. Although donors give out of generosity, the tax credit encourages them to give more often and give larger gifts. Those gifts fuel the philanthropic missions of charities across the country and have a direct impact on Canada’s communities. The charitable tax designation and the tax credit are a commitment of the people and government to philanthropy and our communities. To drastically change those symbols—to eliminate charitable tax status and giving incentives—is to end that commitment.

The charitable sector is a vital element of Canada’s economy. The sector employs two million Canadians, contributing 10.5% of our labour force and 8.1% of GDP, according to the National Survey of Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations, with more than $100 billion in annual revenue and more than that amount in net assets.

For the second time in three years, the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada and Ipsos-Reed surveyed a wide range of Canadians about their views about philanthropy, giving, volunteerism and charity in the What Canadian Donors Want Survey. There were many positive findings.

More than three quarters (77%) of Canadians agree that that charities play an important role in society to address needs not being met by the government or the private sector, and confidence in the charitable sector is significantly higher than that for the private and public sector (75% versus 63% and 49%, respectively).

In addition, Canadians are very supportive of charity, with 70% having made a financial donation to a charity over the past 12 months. Most donors are very generous: 44% support 2-3 causes, 21% give to 4-5 causes and 16% support 6 or more causes. Just 20% support only one charity.

But there are signs for concern. The main reason that respondents cite for not making a gift to a charity is not being able to afford it. In addition, almost 10% said they simply do not donate to charity. Furthermore, while the number of donors giving larger gifts increased, the percentage of donors who gave small amounts decreased. This is a trend that Statistics Canada is seeing as well—giving increasing overall but only because of larger gifts made by fewer people.

None of these trends indicate a huge shift in giving—yet. But, referencing one of Coyne’s analogies, they indicate that our country’s charitable giving is teetering atop a pinhead with little margin for error. To recommend eliminating the tax credit entirely is untenable, even more so now when nonprofits are still rebuilding following the recession at a time when we have not seen any sustained increase in giving levels over the past few years.

The charitable tax designation and the tax credit do not define the nonproft sector. The defining characteristic of the sector is what we achieve—impact in communities. The tax credit enhances that impact by encouraging and sustaining the culture of giving in our country. We should be investing more in the tax credit and encouraging additional philanthropy, not eliminating it.

AFP recommends that the government increase tax incentives for charitable giving. In our 2014 Prebudget Consultations Brief, AFP has urged the government to implement a stretch credit that would apply to donated amounts above $200 that exceed a donor’s previous highest giving level and an exemption from capital gains tax to charitable gifts of private company shares, appreciated land and real estate.

The charitable tax designation and the tax credit are effective and proven to work. But most importantly, they are vital symbols of the tradition of philanthropy in Canada. They are part of our culture. They are a rare example of government coming together with the people to invest in a better future for all. And we firmly believe that you cannot eliminate the charitable tax designation and the tax credit without losing something very vital in this country.