Canadians are known for many things. Maple syrup. Hockey. Saying sorry all too often. And of course, Justin Bieber (We really are sorry about that one…)

But Canadians are also unique for their giving habits. Knowing Canadian giving habits is key to successful fundraising in Canada. Whether you are an international organization moving in to Canada or simply new to the country there are a few things you need to learn, and the below list will help you understand some of the most important giving behaviours that make Canadians unique.

Peer-to-peer fundraising in Canada is big.

In most major cities there are runs, walks, bike rides, and other events happening weekly throughout the summer. All of these events are fueled by friends asking friends for money. Looking at the global leaderboard for Movember last year, Canadians accounted for 24% of worldwide donations. For a country of only 35 million this is quite impressive. And we were less than $1,000,000 behind the US in money raised, even though our population is 1/10th of theirs. Do Canadians grow better beards than any other country in the world? Possibly, but that seems unlikely. The success of events like this in Canada is simply because we love to support our friends in their charitable endeavours.

Canadians aren’t bothered by strangers.

Face-to-face and door-to-door fundraising in Canada is huge. On a 15 minute walk through a major Canadian city you’re likely to be approached by at least 3 or 4 street canvassers asking you to join a cause. You’ll find booths set up in malls, kiosks at airports, and sometimes even people set up in transit stations. Door-to-door fundraising is also very common. Sometimes this is conducted by professional fundraisers, other times it’s done by donors, asking their friends and neighbours to join their cause. And although the attrition with these methods of fundraising can be very high, the long-term value is potentially very large, and many charities have leveraged this to substantially grow their monthly giving programs in Canada.

Canadians like monthly giving.

Canadian organizations that established a monthly giving program 20 or 25 years ago are seeing massive benefits today. Some organizations have grown their monthly donor file to the tens of thousands, representing tens of millions of dollars over the years (which is huge in Canada). This all comes without much effort from the charity, as the retention rate with some monthly donors (particularly if they were acquired through direct mail) will be 95% or higher year-over-year. Another important benefit from monthly giving is that the value of a monthly donor is typically 2-3 times that of an annual giving donor. And monthly donors are also some of your best prospects for legacy gifts.

And these are just a few of the ways Canadians are different. Read about what else makes us unique here


Ryan is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with more than 10 years of experience helping non-profits raise more money for their causes. At Harvey McKinnon Associates (HMA), he’s the Head of Integrated Marketing and has worked with many major non-profits across Canada and the US. He has experience working with clients on all levels from program audits, to individual annual giving campaigns. He’s also responsible for driving strategy for many of HMA’s clients on integrating their efforts through all channels including direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail, and social media.

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