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LETTER: 'Give with your heart' when it comes to charities

LETTER: Giving Tuesday has come and gone, and with it millions of dollars in donations to charities across the country.


Giving Tuesday has come and gone, and with it millions of dollars in donations to charities across the country.

I’m not a huge fan of various official days that encourage you to spend money – such as Valentine’s Day – however, as an expert in philanthropy with more than 25 years’ experience in the sector, and having worked with many non-profits right here in the Bow Valley, I know this kind of global movement provides a united platform to talk about the social purpose sector, build awareness, and rally people to step up and make a donation to causes and charities they care about. If you did, thank you.

With 84,000 charities in Canada alone, deciding where to give your money is a daunting task. There are many factors that go into determining where to direct your funds, such as your belief in the cause and trust in the organization.

Unfortunately, the St. Albert Gazette’s article that was on the Outlook’s website “How to tell if your Giving Tuesday donation is making an impact”, missed the mark as it quoted a researcher from non-profit Charity Intelligence and telling readers to beware of things like matching dollars and marketing ‘gimmicks’ to encourage giving.

For anyone paying attention to the dialogue amplified by the movie Uncharitable we recently screened in the Bow Valley, you will have seen examples of the two rule books: one for charities and one for for-profits.

It is somehow bad for charities to advertise, but we are totally accepting of the notion of billions being spent to entice you to buy things on Black Friday or Cyber Monday? If someone donated and was willing to have it part of a matching program to encourage others to give, why is there a problem with that?

Charity Intelligence is broadly criticized in the sector for its work trying to measure impact and compare charities to one another. It’s damaging to individual charities doing great work and a dangerous way to approach philanthropy.

Yes, charities need to be accountable. Yes, charities should work to be well-run organizations. If someone relies on donated services and another doesn’t, does that make one better than the other? Sustainability is a massive issue in the non-profit sector – and the survival of many charities that serve our communities is at risk because of this misguided judgement.

Please consider your philanthropic goals, do strategize about your giving and tax planning, but also give with your heart, and where you see the need. Organizations like Community Foundations have teams of volunteers who allocate pooled funding to organizations based on research. If you don’t know how to decide, give to them and trust their process.

But please, don’t criticize charities for promoting themselves, spending some marketing dollars, and inviting donors to be part of encouraging other donors. As they said in the movie “Let the epitaph for our generation not be “we kept charity overhead low”.

Kathy Arney,


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