By Sandra Dunham

December is the unofficial month of giving. Many people give in December, possibly because they are in the giving mood. Or because they are trying to make their donation when the promise of the tax saving is more imminent than at other times of the year. Or maybe the hype of Giving Tuesday has reminded them of the importance of charity in the social fabric of Canada. Whatever the reason, people often look for advice on what charity to donate to.

Blumberg’s Canadian Charity Law, December edition, offers some thoughts on choosing a charity . The abbreviated message is that there is no easy way of choosing. The longer message, however, is that the “simplified” methods do not work.

Blumberg reminds us that there is very poor information available about charities and that much of the information that is available is not reliable. Charities are required to file a report annually; the T-3010, and that information is publicly available . However, the information is notoriously inaccurate, it misses asking really important questions, and the interpretation of the results is far less simple than many would have us believe.

Blumberg points out that one key to understanding charities that is missing in this filing is understanding its volunteer program. He advocates for adding a question about the charity’s volunteer program to the T-3010.

For advice on factors to consider (and not to consider) when choosing a charity, Blumberg points out that the answer is different for everyone. He also suggests that the very best way to understand a charity is to volunteer with it. This allows you to explore its culture, the work it does, and the people who operate it.

Canadians donate over $18 billion each year to charities. This money does an amazing amount of good. Shouldn’t we be sure that we are giving to the right causes? For more information about choosing a charity, see Blumberg’s guide to smart giving .

This article appears in the January 2020 version of Critical Links.