For more than a year, the cost of living in British Columbia has been dominating the headlines.
From housing to personal income, the impact of affordability is causing a ripple effect that is now hitting charitable donations.
According to a new Vancity report, charitable donations by British Columbians have dropped 25 per cent over the last five years and the majority of the people attribute the decrease to plain old economics. They just can’t afford it whether it’s due to the situation of fixed or low incomes, the increased cost of living or the current state of the economy.
Included in the survey, which looked at emerging trends in charitable giving, 81 per cent of British Columbians reported the affordability of housing in their area has gotten worse in the past three years and 69 per cent said their family’s income is falling behind the cost of living.
Personal finances are worse than four years ago, according to 43 per cent of the respondents and 38 per cent attribute their decline in wanting to donate to housing costs.
“Basically it comes down to the affordability crunch, they’re really feeling the pinch,” said Linda Morris, senior VP at Vancity.
“Home, paying for the mortgage, salaries haven’t kept up with the cost of living and they’re finding it tough… the paycheque only stretches as far as it can.”
While the report suggests a marked decline in charitable giving, 58 per cent said they intend to keep their commitment to charities they care about. And in terms of giving in the New Year, only a small percentage plan to give more while roughly one-third plan to give the same or give less.
Government support, which offers 21 per cent of the revenue in the core charitable sector and 51 per cent in areas like universities and hospitals, has been decreasing since the 1990s.
The decline in government investment ends up placing a greater importance on individual contributions.
But Morris said people are giving in other ways even though their dollar isn’t going as far.
“They give their time, they donate materials, they look at other ways to help,” she said. “There are other ways of looking at it… perhaps among your family you say this year we’re going to donate.”