So it’s understandable that charitable donations from younger generations are taking a hit while remaining steadier in older generations. This ‘giving gap’ is obviously a gap that requires plugging. But do we sound an alarm? Like everything else, it’s complicated, but there is a lot of hope and it’s obvious millennials care a lot. In fact, young people typically participate in giving in high numbers and in unique ways:
- traditional donations made easy with a click
- more frequent but smaller online donations
- workplace giving programs
- smaller street-level donations
- attaching fundraising to existing events
Deb*, a young parent, says “I tend to give when a particular need arises such as an environmental disaster or political change. I donate monthly to two organizations but donate more often during need-based campaigns.” Whereas Victoria, a 30-year-old teacher, says, “I give when I can. Usually, that means a lump sum at the end of the year or quarter.” Brian, a 28-year-old designer, on the other hand, volunteers his time using his graphic design skills.
Indeed, an immediate alarm is offset by the sheer number of younger people giving and volunteering in bite-sized amounts. Smaller donations from lots of people help plug the hole but we want to encourage some stability and a long-term focus on building giving into your life. So no alarm needed – but instead we can offer some tips on making donating easy and making it work for individual circumstances.
Charities need funds. We can’t pretend otherwise. If you are able to support charities of your choice with funds, make it work for you as much as possible. Here are some tips:
- Small amounts add up! Do not discount the impact of smaller donations coming together to create a very large pool
- Write down your giving goals and parameters so you are able to stay focused on causes and activities that are the most meaningful to you and your circle
- You may not yet be working with a financial planner but it’s always a good idea to have a charity conversation with them if/when you do
- Build donating into your budget
- Set up automatic donations so you can forget about it
- Try to hit the threshold for getting tax receipts so you can take advantage of the charitable tax credit (see below if you are now saying “what is a charitable tax credit and why is it important to me?”)
What are Charitable Tax Credits?
The tax credit for charitable donations is essentially an incentive to encourage donations to charity. When you donate money (usually over a certain small amount), to a registered charity, the organization can issue you a tax receipt. Keep those receipts! If you like paper, print them. If you like e-filing, create an email folder for them.
You can claim any receipts up to December 31 of the year you are filing IN ADDITION to any unfiled receipts for the past five years. As an additional incentive to donate more, the tax credit rate increases once you hit the $200 donation amount (i.e. you get a greater reduction in your taxable income).
If you have a spouse or common-law partner you can apply the credits to the person with the higher income where they are of most value to your family. Finally, keep your receipts for 6 years – like any other tax documents.
All Kinds of Support
We all know that having funds earmarked for charity can absolutely fluctuate. You may not always be in a financial position to give. You might be just starting out in a career, scraping together funds for a house, saving for a family, or even for your next big trip. But you care, and you care a lot. And there are lots of ways to give back:
Do you have a big online presence?
Use your influencer status for good. Find a charity that is meaningful to you and talk about it. We might be biased but Eli’s Place is poised to do amazing things and you can be a big voice for a small start-up with life-changing goals.
Spread the word!
You may not be an influencer but you can still spread the word. Tell people about Eli’s Place. Use your social media channels to shout it from the rooftops. Tell your friends and family in person. Like, share, and comment on accounts that you’d like to support — like Eli’s Place!
Organize a fundraiser!
Is it your birthday? Set up a Facebook fundraiser asking for donations to a charity you’d like to support. Or attach a fundraiser to an existing event. Be creative! Why not ask for a unique donation amount related to the party theme in lieu of a gift?
Get your employer on board!
Many workplaces have charities of choice and some involve their employees directly in fundraising or will match individual donations. If you are in a position to do so, take some time to advocate for Eli’s Place as an exciting alternative to established charities.
Building Family Traditions
Nothing changes the game more than kids and for many of you, that’s exactly where you are or plan to be soon. Let’s face it – kids are expensive and obviously top the priority list in the family budget. But instilling a charitable nature in our kids is also on many of our priority lists. Really small actions can have lifelong positive impacts. Once you are out of the newborn and toddlerhood haze, there are some really neat ways to instill these values in your kids.
Talk it out:
Talk to your kids about why you give and/or volunteer, why it’s a joyful experience, and why sharing what we have matters. Encourage gratitude in daily activities. Discussing and finding causes that your kids care about is a wonderful opportunity to connect. Allow them to feel some ownership over the process and help identify how they want to put their generosity into action.
A piggy bank with a makeover:
This works for kids around 5 and up. Label three jars (great opportunity to reuse pasta sauce mason jars!) with the titles give, save, and spend. The give jar is money to be donated to charity or a cause/person of importance. The save jar is for long-term saving and could also be deposited into a bank account. The spend jar is money they can spend on anything they want! Choose a way to fill the jars – it could be through an allowance broken up into 3 parts, it could be through chores, or holiday money they receive. The importance is not only on creating a culture of giving but also on fiscal responsibility and independence to make their own financial decisions.
Making special events extra special:
Kids often get a lot of gifts on holidays and their birthdays. Imagine if the cost for just one of these was put towards a charity of choice instead. Holidays are a great time to ensure kids get things for themselves and also have the opportunity to give back. Choose a charity of meaning to your family and direct some of the family gift money to the charity. Get the kids involved in making related arts and crafts or doing a small fundraiser to add to the pot.
Do it together:
Modeling compassion, empathy, and generosity is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. And it’s not a bad reminder for ourselves as well! Look for opportunities to participate in the community with the family. Put your values into action and let your kids see it.
Repeat, repeat, repeat:
One-off opportunities are great but repetition, in the form of annual traditions, is a way to cement a giving culture in your family. Do it regularly and it will become something your kids remember as part of growing up.
Why Eli’s Place?
“We are a generation living with extreme stress related to finances, climate change, and more. It is finally time for people to stop suffering in silence and access long-term and individualized help and care when experiencing mental health struggles.” Deb, age 31
As a young person, your dollars and time are scarce. So let’s get right to the point. We want you to choose Eli’s Place as your charity of choice. Mental health is already one of the top charitable causes for millennials and we know that short-term care and quick fixes do not offer individuals with complex mental health challenges the dignity of long-term, individualized support. The loss is huge – not only for the affected individuals and their families but we all lose out when we can’t provide the needed support to allow everyone to meaningfully contribute. We need creative solutions to reduce crisis interventions, substance abuse, and self-harm while also offering tools for employment and education.
Eli’s Place will be a farm-based residential treatment centre helping adults aged 18-35 who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, mood disorders & related mental health challenges. Eli’s Place will use the proven Gould farm model and offer a non-clinical setting with 6 months of residential care and 12 months of transitional care. This model and continuum of care will allow residents the time and space to achieve stability and gain the tools needed for long-term personal and economic health.
There are many established charities focused on mental health who do amazing work. But we want you to be part of something groundbreaking (you can actually be there when we break ground!), something unique, and something so meaningful you can’t wait to tell your friends. Eli’s Place will be young, like you, and we want you to grow with us. There is a meaningful clarity when you connect your dollars and time to something tangible like Eli’s Place. It’s not the old-school charity of your parents – it’s something you will be able to see unfold and know that the impacts will be life-changing for people who require serious and complex support.
So imagine playing a small part in opening the doors of Eli’s Place. Imagine making evidence-based, long-term mental health recovery your charity issue of choice. Imagine seeing someone come out the other side, equipped with the health and skills to manage their disease and live a full and productive life with their loved ones.
Grow and build with us! Make Eli’s Place your place.
*Quotes anecdotally sourced by the author
Eli’s Place will be a rural, residential treatment program for young adults with serious mental illness. To learn more about our mission and our proven-effective model click here.
Andria Samis | Eli’s Place Volunteer
Andria lives in Toronto’s east end with her partner and 2 young kids. A career in the charitable sector prompts ongoing conversations about giving and volunteering with her family and friends. Andria currently splits her time between her freelance work and her role as the Program Director for the National Newspaper Awards.