AT RANDOM: Tax receipt not required

Every year, the Fraser Institute irritates me with its annual rankings of elementary and secondary schools

Every year, the Fraser Institute irritates me with its annual rankings of elementary and secondary schools based on the results of the Foundation Skills Assessment.

And they’ve done it again, just in time for Christmas, with their annual generosity index which has determined that fewer Canadians are donating to charity, and those who do are giving less.

The rankings are based on tax returns, but they  fail to take into consideration the absolutely overwhelming generosity I see around me, especially at this time of year.

The generosity index did not look at volunteer time or non-monetary donations, such as donations of food items to food banks.

It also doesn’t take into account all of the ways in which people give. I see the Christmas kettles all over town, where people toss in everything from a quarter to $20 bills in support of the Salvation Army.

Generous students at my daughter’s school came up with the idea of a pyjama drive so kids in need could have a nice new pair of jammies to wear. I was happy to help. And no, I did not require a tax receipt for my donation.

The school also “adopts” a local family, this year a single mom with several kids. Cash donations allowed the school to purchase gift cards for various merchants to give the family a Christmas to remember.

I won’t deny that it’s nice to get a charitable donation tax receipt to use at tax time. But it doesn’t influence whether or not I donate. Perhaps if I were giving away more than I do I’d change my mind. But the little bits here and there don’t make a huge difference on my return.

The Shoparama Holiday Gift Sale, the annual event coordinated by Ingrid Baron, has just handed over a cheque for $1,100 as a donation from the event, along with $955 in cash from the kettles, 39 boxes of food for the Salvation Army Food Bank (1,638 items in total) and six large boxes of toys for the Kiss-FM Santa Toy Club. All of this just from one event.

And what about the donations made to the food bank, $2 here and there, that gets added to my grocery bill?

That’s not taking into consideration the many events held throughout the year, whether a fundraising bake sale for a child undergoing treatment at B.C. Children’s Hospital or a silent auction for a sports team heading to the provincials.

Every story we have ever run on people in need — and there have been many — has resulted in an outpouring of support.

Let’s face it, many of us are strapped for cash, especially at this time of year. It can be difficult to say no, but we can’t support every charity in need and to be honest, the recent e-mail making the rounds detailing the massive salaries made by CEOs of certain non-profit organizations was horrifying, and has made me think twice about supporting certain causes.

So if we are lucky enough to be able to support a cause or two, we pick the ones that truly mean something to us, that we believe in.

And if money is in short supply, which it is for many of us, give your time instead. It won’t be noted on the generosity index, but you’ll feel good and so will those you’re helping.

And if it’s better to give than to receive, Tom Crist is about to feel very good indeed. The Calgary man has just won $40 million on LOTTO Max and is planning on giving away every single dollar of his winnings.

We all fantasize about winning the lottery, and what we’d do with our winnings. Yes, I’d quit my job, pay off our mortgage, put money aside for my daughter’s post-secondary education and travel to exotic lands. But I’d also happily donate a lot more than I currently do to my favourite cause.

The bottom line is I give what I can, wish I could give more and I don’t need the Fraser Institute to undermine the good efforts of Canadians who are doing what they can.