The final season of 2019 is upon us. Snow has fallen, twinkling lights are going up, and the end of year lists are making their rounds. But most notably, it’s the season of generosity, when we all look for ways to give back.
While every effort helps, some options are more impactful than others. At Toronto Foundation we strive for informed philanthropy that connects resources with the greatest community needs and opportunities. As you wind down the year here are three ideas for your holiday giving that will provide meaningful support to the community.
1. Donate to small and medium-sized charities.
Many smaller and lesser known organizations are doing the tough work to fight inequality. So in addition to your tried-and-true charities, consider giving to some of the more under-the-radar groups this year. They work directly in our communities but need financial support to scale up their successes. Toronto Foundation’s Good to Give guide profiles a collection of these organizations that are working hard to tackle the most pressing challenges facing Toronto, but don’t have the big advertising budgets to get the attention of donors, despite their deep impact. Check out this year’s featured organizations.
2. Donate cash rather than goods.
Giving cash is the most efficient thing you can do. It allows charities to be nimble and use their expertise to acquire and direct the best resources as needs grow or evolve. If your workplace or school is collecting used clothing, cans of food or other items typical of holiday drives, consider an envelope with a cheque or making an online donation along with your contributed goods.
3. Give your business to a social enterprise.
Social enterprises use their business strategies to help the community through financial income and social benefit. At Toronto Foundation, we strive to use social enterprises in our practices whenever possible. Here is a shortlist of a few providers we have used and have had great experiences with:
Food and catering:
- Friends Catering: helping people experiencing poverty and homelessness to gain skills in the hospitality industry
- Paintbox: a hospitality hub and social enterprise featuring a catering company, plant-based café and event space
- Newcomer Kitchen: Syrian food for pick-up and pop-up dinners cooked by Syrian women refugees
- Garden Market at Evergreen Brick Works: primarily carries products from artisans, craftspeople and small-batch producers in Canada as well as native plants, with all proceeds going back to Evergreen, a non-profit dedicated to helping cities flourish.
- Spun Studio– a micro business incubator run by Sistering, supporting women who are living on the street, in shelters or in unsafe housing, and helping them learn how to create and sell knitted, crocheted and sewn pieces
- Youth Cedar Basket Gift Shopat the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto: provides training for youth in the retail industry, while promoting authentically handmade products and the arts of First Nations, Inuit & Métis people.
- Eva’s Print Shop: a full-service digital printer preparing homeless youth for employment in the graphics and print sector, overseen by the youth homelessness organization Eva’s Initiatives
- Good Foot: an eco-friendly point-to-point delivery service on foot and public transit that employs people with disabilities
What else can you do?
Help the homeless: when it gets cold out, it’s hard not to think about the challenges for people who have no home to go to and escape the elements. To support homeless Torontonians, check out these suggestions put together by Fred Victor, one of Toronto’s leading organizations in this sector.
Volunteer: Your time is another valuable contribution. If you are looking to get involved as a volunteer, check out Volunteer Toronto or Charity Village which feature the best and most up-to-date knowledge on volunteer needs in the city. You can also get in touch with your local community centre – these neighbourhood hubs often have volunteer opportunities for local residents and are in the know about other nearby groups who might need a hand.
We hope you will incorporate these tips into your charitable plans to increase your impact in the community. Wishing you a happy giving season!