Your Insights on Charitable Donations in BC

Nearly all (95%) British Columbians donated a median of $200 to a charitable cause or non-profit organization in 2011, and the top brands are BC Cancer Foundation, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.  

Personal belief in the cause (80% very important) and the charity’s transparency in how funds are used (76% very important) are top motivators to donating.

Vancouver, BC – A new Insights West online survey of 919 British Columbians on charitable giving attitudes and behaviours shows that BC Cancer Foundation, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society are the top charitable brands in BC based on a brand health index comprised of awareness, past donation behaviour, and propensity to give.

Awareness Of Charitable Organizations

Insights West evaluated 59 different individual branded charities that operate in BC (and three unbranded—churches, food banks, and the homeless), evaluating each of the brands on overall awareness, past donation behaviour, and willingness to give in the future.  On that basis, the top brands in BC include the BC Cancer Foundation—with 95% awareness, 52% who have given in the past, and 52% who would give in the future to this organization.  Following closely was BC Children’s Hospital (96% awareness, 51% past donations, 46% in the future, and Canadian Cancer Society (93%, 46%, 40% respectively).  A further 9 additional brands (from Big Brothers and Sisters to United Way) achieve overall awareness levels of 90%+, but past donation and future donation ranges from 20-30%.  A large number (25) of other brands generate overall awareness levels of 75%+ among the general adult population.  The majority of British Columbians also express a willingness to donate to local food banks (52%), double the number of other unbranded causes such as the homeless (24%), or churches and other religious institutions (24%).

“Charities face the same branding issues that commercial enterprises face when ‘marketing’ their brand to consumers in this category—a crowded marketplace with many brands willing to accept their dollar, the challenge in breaking through awareness levels and short attention spans of consumers, and ultimately providing potential donors with a compelling reason to choose them over their ‘competitor’” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West in Vancouver.  “Many charitable organizations face declining donation behaviour, and must find creative ways to get their message out to the donating public.  Insights West’s first ever study of this magnitude allows charities to gauge how well they are doing in this increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Amount Donated

British Columbians actively open their wallets to donate to charities, non-profit organizations and charitable causes.   In 2011, nearly all (95%) BC adults made a donation of some kind, whether they were small donations totalling less than $100 (31%) or larger donations totalling $500 or more (22%).

On average, British Columbians donated an average of $732 to charitable organizations in 2011, with a median of $200. The average of $732 was driven high above the median by a small proportion of very large donators (4% of total) who contributed at total $5000 or more throughout the year. Excluding this group of very large donators, average annual donations drop to $445.

Donation size tends to increase with age.  One-in-five (19%) of those aged 55+ donated more than $1000 in 2011, compared to 12% of 35 to 54 years and 3% of 18 to 34 years.

Motivators and Barriers to Donating

British Columbians consider their personal belief in the cause (80% very important), transparency in how funds are used (76% very important), and demonstrated positive outcomes from funding dollars (73% very important) the most important factors when deciding whether to support a charity.

Despite British Columbians’ active giving habits, charitable fatigue and concern about how charities use funds prevent many from donating.  One-third or more strongly agree that the administration costs of charities are too high (43%), that there are too many charitable or non-profit organizations asking for money (38%), and that they don’t know what the money they donate is being used for (32%).

To link to media coverage of this release in the Vancouver Sun, click here.

About Insights West

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company that exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis, through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations.

Results are based on an online study conducted between July and October 2012 among 919 British Columbians aged 18+ who are Your Insights panel members. Your Insights is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to British Columbia Census figures for age, gender, and region. Results have a +/-3.16% margin of error.  To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.

For more information on this study or any other inquiries on our Your Insights panel, contact:
Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778-891-4762
stevemossop@insightswest.com