Although many of you may think that this time of year is all about getting together with your family, exchanging gifts, and eating as much as your sweatpants will allow, it’s also about giving back during the holidays and spreading some joy and goodwill into the world. 

Giving back has always been a big part of my upbringing, starting with my mom donating money to our church every Sunday during the weekly offering. When I moved out and started making a real pay cheque, I wanted to make sure I followed suit. For the past couple of years around Christmastime I always make a point of choosing a charity I feel passionate about, then donating a lump sum of money to it.

Usually I choose a charity that I’m familiar with, but I’ve always been curious about how far my dollar actually goes when my cheque’s been deposited. How much does that charity spend on administration fees? Is my money really helping a child eat and go to school? Is this organization actually legit?

Luckily, I stumbled upon this handy news article all about naughty and nice charities, which in turn directed me to the CRA’s website. Not only is it astounding to see how many charities exist, but it’s scary to see how many have had their registrations revoked or penalized! What I liked best about the site is that when you click on a charity, you can find out how much that charity raked in the year prior, and most importantly where it all went.

For instance, I’ve never been a big fan of World Vision Canada because I feel like they should spend less money on commercials and more money on actually helping those in need. However, they apparently only spend 5% on administration fees which is pretty low for a charity.

Then again, when you dig a bit deeper, you can see that there are ten full-time employees who make between $120,000 – $200,000 per year. I just don’t understand how someone can make that much money while working for an organization that’s all about ending poverty and hunger around the world?

Another charity that’s very close to me and my HB’s hearts is the MS Society of Canada. Unfortunately, after looking at their financials, they only put 50% of their donations towards programs, but spend 40% on fundraising efforts. So basically they spend half of the money they get on trying to get more money? That just doesn’t seem right to me.

There are of course many other ways you can give back without giving money, such as volunteering, buying a gift for a toy drive, donating blood or your organs, or giving away some of your household goods. But if you are interested in donating some money to a worthy cause, make sure you’re smart with your money and have the facts first.

Remember my post about how breast cancer charities and its sponsors may be more hype than help? Well, the Breast Cancer Society of Canada only spends 2% of its donations on charitable programs, but 63% of its money goes towards gifts to other registered charities. Hmm…I think I might be crossing that one-off my possible-charities-to-donate-to list.

Is giving back during the holidays something you do every year?

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