High-net-worth Canadians (those with investible assets of US$1 million or more) plan on leaving an average of four per cent of their estates to charitable causes in their wills, according to a study released by BMO Harris Private Banking to mark National Philanthropy Day on November 15.

The study is the third in a series by BMO Harris Private Banking examining trends among Canada’s affluent.

The study also found that:

  • Almost three-quarters of Canada’s affluent have returned to pre-recession levels of support for charities, with 48% reporting that they are currently donating the same as they did before the onset of the recession and 36% stating that they are donating more.
  • Nearly all (93%) of Canada’s wealthy expect to make a charitable contribution this year.
  • High-net worth Canadians plan to donate an average of US$5,217 this year to charitable causes.

Marvi Ricker, vice president & managing director of Philanthropic Services, BMO Harris Private Banking, said: "Our previous studies have shown that Canada’s affluent have rebounded well from the effects of the 2008 recession and it’s gratifying to see that this is being reflected in their support for their communities. Not only are they giving more now, but the fact that so many of them plan on leaving a portion of their estates to charitable causes bodes well for the future."

Top Charitable Sectors Being Supported by Canada’s Wealthy

When asked what causes they actively support, affluent Canadians identified the following:

  • Health programs and disease research (72%)
  • Children’s charities (38%)
  • Local community programs (36%)
  • Religious institutions (33%)
  • Animal welfare (24%)
  • Education (18%)
  • The arts (16%)
  • Political causes/the environment/foreign aid (all tied at 13%)

The study found that affluent Canadian women are more likely than their male counterparts to donate to health programs and disease research (79% vs. 69%) and animal welfare (30% vs. 21%). However, men are more likely to donate to religious institutions (37% vs. 23%).

Ricker added: "When thinking of ways to support charitable organizations, Canadians should consider working with a financial professional to develop a philanthropic strategy that is part of an overall financial plan. This will help to maximize the impact of their donation, ensure that they continue to use their wealth to help make the world a better place and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren."

The online survey was conducted by Pollara between March 28th and April 11th, 2013 with a sample of 305 Canadians and 482 Americans with at least $1 million in investable assets. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 5.6%, 19 times out of 20 for Canadian results and ± 4.5%, 19 times out of 20 for US results.