A guide to the giving season: Tips on charitable donations

‘Tis the giving season when many of us donate to our favourite charitable causes. We do it because we want to support our local and global communities, and because it makes us feel good—and did you know donations made before December 31st allow us an income tax credit, too?

If you’re trying to decide what causes to support this holiday season, check out these informative DOs and DON’Ts that can help maximize your donation satisfaction and financial impact.


Think about giving to a cause that marries your interests or passions with your desire to make a better world. If you love art, for example, there’s a charitable organization that uses art as a platform to help homeless youth.


Research your choices by visiting the organization’s website and looking at their mission and financial statements. For a comprehensive list of Canadian charities, as well as direct donation links and giving tips, visit Canadahelps.org. Make sure your choice is a registered charity with a registered charitable tax number. You can confirm the number through the Canada Revenue Agency.


Hang up the phone and close the door. Fraud experts caution people not to make donations to anyone who comes to your door, or to give your credit/debit card information over the phone. There are legitimate charities that use third-party companies to solicit donations by phone or at the door, but there are also many fraudsters who operate in this manner. If you choose to open the door to an unknown fundraiser, ask them to mail you information before donating.

Food donations on wooden background, top view with copy spaceDON’T

Feel obligated to donate because the organization has sent you a letter accompanied by a “thank-you gift” or token, such as stickers, cards or pens. Some legitimate charitable organizations use this approach, building in the cost of the token into their administrative budget, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to donate. If this approach bothers you, register your displeasure by returning the envelope to the sender.


Allow a charity to share your personal information with any other organization if you don’t wish to receive more requests for donations. Sometimes, unless you specifically opt out, charities will share or sell their address list to another organization—and soon your mailbox is overflowing.

The bottom line is to honour your giving spirit with a donation built on thoughtful knowledge of your intended charity.

If you’re looking for a charity that supports seniors, you could always consider donating to our charitable partner, Wish of a Lifetime Canada. This organization is devoted to helping grant the lifelong wishes of Canadian seniors, and—like Chartwell—is dedicated to keeping older adults dreaming, daring and living a life of purpose.