Work at CSI for the day with our new Lounge Pass!

It’s Time to Rethink Charitable Giving

Nikky Manfredi

Nikky Manfredi

Communications & Content Specialist

Charitable giving isn’t what it used to be. According to the 2021 Giving Report, fewer Canadians are donating to charity. And there’s a “growing giving gap”: Canadians 55 and up give twice as much as those aged 25-54 year olds. Unfortunately, twice as much is still a smaller piece of the pie; the report shows giving is in decline for every demographic.

Despite the less-than-good news, there are positive trends, too. More people than ever are giving online. 2020 broke records for online giving to social services and health charities, especially in the first wave of the pandemic. The question is: will it last? And how do we make sense of the decline? What’s stopping young people from donating? And more importantly, what can we do about it? 

Infāque has some ideas (and some expertise to back it up). Joining CSI after incubating through our SE101 program (now Impact Entrepreneurship 101), co-founders Omar A. Butt and Fahad Qureshi have long studied the challenges impacting the philanthropic sector (it’s what led them to create a centralized platform that enables what they call “frictionless giving”). For our latest Lunch and Learn, they, alongside Tristan Surman of My Media Creative, explained how the cultural shift to a ‘platform economy’ is impacting philanthropy and what nonprofits can do about it. 

Diagnosing the Challenges Facing Philanthropy

So, when Infāque set out to diagnose some of the problems facing philanthropy, what did they find? “We saw that smaller nonprofits and charities are competing to get access to a limited pool of institutional funds (e.g. governments, corporations, foundations) and don’t have enough resources to engage individual donors,” they explain. “On the flip side, the individual donors are burnt out from unending requests. Donations among young people are low because the giving process is not facilitated by easy to use tech-platforms (like buying or banking is).”

Donor burnout. Lack of trust in the middleman. Overloaded with options. Lack of clarity around impact…These are some of the top challenges keeping donors across demographics from giving back. What’s stopping young people? 

As Tristan explained, “young people are not necessarily looking at email in the same way.” In other words, the traditional nonprofit tactic of creating awareness campaigns to drive people to mailing lists to then solicit donations isn’t working. We’re living in a platform economy

What does that mean? Increasingly, people are moving towards and favouring digital platforms to conduct business. Young people go to specific platforms to bank, socialize, purchase goods, and learn online. They are primed for platform experiences, which is why, as Omar noted, businesses like WealthSimple and Shopify have exploded onto the scene, by “empowering individuals to bypass institutional legacies.” Now, Infaque says, the nonprofit sector needs to catch up. 

What Younger Generations Need In Order to Give Back 

According to Tristan, “there hasn’t been a public-facing, well-branded and well-marketed platform that serves charitable giving in a way that reflects the experience young people want to have with the products they want to use.” On top of that, data indicates Facebook and Instagram followers don’t convert to donations at the rate that a newsletter subscriber does, further contributing to the decline. What the nonprofit sector needs, Infāque believes, is a centralized platform that creates a giving experience reflective of the online experiences young people are used to having. 

According to Infāque, WealthSimple and Shopify grew so rapidly because they did three things right: 

  1. They took a platform-based approach and made it frictionless 
  2. They prioritized transparency 
  3. They made the user experience empowering 

Modelling this approach, Infāque is partnering with on-the-ground nonprofits to build a centralized platform with a cause-focused approach. Omar and Fahad’s research showed that what young people want is a giving experience that is experience-focused, cause-focused, and engagement-focused. “Instead of taking an entity-based view of a single nonprofit or charity and trying to approach individuals with a lot of information, we are trying to attract individuals at a cause-level,” Omar explains. 

Young people expect easy, inclusive and transparent services. The platform empowers young people to choose the causes they care about and direct funds that way. Contributors can also review where their money is going through a tracking system, review the impact of each dollar they donate, and decide to make specific crowdfunding campaigns a priority based on urgency and need. 

Keep Reading
Good Foot Courier places a box inside of a blue reusable bag.
CSI is chock full of amazing member organizations and entrepreneurs working on changing the world. Sustainable climate action start ups, literacy initiatives, newcomer services, and building leadership skills are just a few of the many ways our members are making a difference. Did you know that in addition to their changemaking work, some organizations also offer up awesome benefits to their fellow CSI members? One of those groups is Good Foot Delivery, a CSI member since 2014.
CSI Annex hosts Six Degrees: Toronto Talks Election 2022
We hosted the first Six Degrees event in several years at CSI Annex, along with partners The Green Line and the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). Six Degrees: Toronto Talks Election 2022 brought together more than 60 attendees, as well as local candidates, to discuss urban futures and the October Toronto municipal election.
Toronto landscape in summer. Blue skies, clear water and grass.
CSI members are doing world changing work, all over the globe - including right here in Toronto! One of our former DECAs and current members, Charles Ozzoude, is running for city council in Ward 1-Etobicoke North in the upcoming municipal election. We spoke to him about his experience as a first time candidate, the accessibility of politics, and how his time at CSI has helped him.
Become A Member