Charitable giving is on the rise in Canada and across the world. You might be looking to become a bigger part of an important cause. Here’s how to also make sure you’re maximizing your impact.

1. Choose a worthy cause to support

Giving back starts with taking up a cause that’s important and meaningful. These are values that resonate with you and with your fellow human-beings. World events in recent years have empowered people to take a stronger stand against all forms of racism, injustice and discrimination.

Maybe you’re wanting to learn more, do more and do better to help others. So where do you begin? Donating to a charity – with money, food, clothing or volunteer work – can be a great start.

There are so many deserving causes out there. Hoping to help registered charities in Canada that serve under-represented ethnicities and communities? Here are a few great choices:

Visit the Government of Canada’s “List of charities” page to find an you want to support. You can also use this list to:

  • see if a charity is currently registered or suspended by the government,
  • get a charity’s contact information,
  • learn about a charity’s support programs,
  • and find general information about a charity’s revenue and expenses. 

2. Set up recurring donations to charity

Make your money do more by going beyond the one-time gift approach.

“[Recurring or automatic monthly donations are] easy and convenient,” says Shannon Craig, chief marketing and product officer at CanadaHelps. This registered charity processes donations and gives the funds to other Canadian charities.

“You give automatically and you’re free to cancel, change or suspend it at any time,” she says. “You also get one tax receipt for all your monthly gifts, making tax time a breeze.”

And from the charity’s side, monthly or recurring donors are a lifesaver.

“They give charities a sense of revenue predictability,” says Allen LeBlanc, director of fund development and marketing at CODE. A registered Canadian charity, CODE focuses on advancing literacy and education in developing nations. “Monthly donors also tend to be stable and loyal. This helps charities forecast their financials.”

3. Claim your charitable tax credits

Are you claiming all the charitable-donation tax credits available to you now?

When filing your federal income tax, you can typically claim eligible donations up to 75% of your yearly net income.

The federal charitable tax-credit rate since 2016 is 15% for the first $200 donated. Any amount over $200 qualifies for a 29% tax-credit rate. A special 33% rate can apply to your donations beyond the first $200 if your income is in the highest tax bracket.

Your donation also qualifies for a provincial tax credit. Each province has different rates, depending on your tax bracket and amount donated. (Note: these rates do not reflect the additional impact of the provincial surtax. The surtax can produce even higher donation credit rates. You may want to talk to a tax professional for more information.)

4. Begin volunteering for a charity

Money isn’t the only way to give. There’s an urgent need for your time, too. Many charities thrive through the efforts of their volunteers.

Think about what skills you can offer a charitable organization. Do you enjoy event planning? Help organize a drive and raise funds. Like to draw? Help create art- or design-work for an organization’s website or promotional materials. 

Remember, you can also volunteer online. Virtual volunteering lets you help out from wherever you live. The United Nations (UN) has a database of virtual volunteer opportunities with UN agencies and other non-profit organizations. Many are looking for virtual writers, translators, graphic designers and tutors.

5. Donate your investments to charity

Do you invest in stocks or mutual funds? Consider donating them along with a cash contribution. Doing so not only increases the size of your contribution, but also gives you a capital-gains tax break. Here’s what that means for you:

“Let’s say you bought ABC stock a number of years ago. Since then, it increased by 300%,” says LeBlanc. “If you sold that stock to make a charitable gift, you would pay tax on the amount you gained. The charity would only receive the net proceeds of the sale.” Net proceeds refer to how much money you get for an investment or asset after taxes and other expenses have been subtracted.

But what if you give the stock directly to charity? “Then the charity would get the total value of the stock,” he adds. “And, you wouldn’t have to pay that gain from a tax perspective. You’d also get a charitable tax receipt for the full value of the asset.”

Still thinking over how much you can afford to give and how? Consider speaking with an advisor. An advisor can help you determine how you can maximize your impact and your ability to give.