January 16, 2018

While charities of all types seek funds all year, things really ramp up during the holiday season. The reasons are obvious: people are generally in better spirits than they might otherwise be, and, I think, tend to reflect more than they otherwise do about just how fortunate they are. In short, there is a feeling of generosity that is just not there for most of the rest of the year.

I recently read an article published in early December, 2017, and written by Rob Carrick. The title of the piece was “A frank discussion of your excuses for not giving to charity.” Almost without exception, whenever Mr. Carrick writes about something — anything — he has an axe to grind. This time he has chosen to wield his axe on those who don`t contribute to charities or, if they do, do not give as much as he thinks they should. He seems to view it as a litmus test as to who is, and is not, a good person.

He points out that many people shy away from giving because they think most charities are ineffective and wasteful. Well guess what, Mr. Carrick, in many, many cases that is true. He goes on to say that there are many charities out there, so just pick one or more and give them some money. That is NOT how to do it. I know many tremendously generous philanthropists. In general, they are very focused. Not on a particular charity, but a particular cause. Whether it be neuroscience, education, health care in general, youth, etc. And the reason they have that focus is because something transformational happened to them or a family member or a very dear friend. It is not, as Mr. Carrick would submit, that they have some vague feeling, based on nothing, that giving some of their money away to something, anything, is just “the right thing to do.”

Most commentary that I have seen on the subject attributes low levels of donations to distrust of the institution soliciting them. And, regrettably, in many cases that mistrust is justified.

I hardly think that all charities should be supported. But I would hope that good ones will be. To me, the best approach is first to determine what area you would like to make a difference in. Generally, there will be many organizations in each area. Then the work begins. It’s really not unlike buying a house. Where do you want to live? What houses look the most attractive on their face? Then start drilling deeper. You may or may not find “the one,” but it sure beats flipping a coin.

If you have found a few charities in the area you wish to support, do the same kind of due diligence. What are the on the record accomplishments of each? What percentage of contributions to the charity actually end up funding the intended purpose? And what percentage is frittered away on other things. When I first went through this exercise I was astounded at the amount of “waste.” The financials can be found on line. Review them carefully.

The final thing I would say here is that given the rate of tax we pay in this country, one would think that governments at all levels would be doing immensely more for the common good than they are. If you want to see real waste, one need only look to that. And the poster child for that squandering must surely be the province of Ontario. So, Mr. Carrick, I would say to you that whether you give anything to charity or not, whether you regularly attend a place of worship or not, whatever political party you are affiliated with (or with none of them), does not determine the level of your character. Character is defined by consistently striving to do what you think is best to make the world just a little bit better than it would be without your efforts.


Howard Goodman

President, HG Partners Limited

Director, Private Client Group &

Senior Financial Advisor, HollisWealth®


This article was prepared solely by Howard Goodman who is a registered representative of HollisWealth® a trade name of Investia Financial Services Inc. (a member of the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada and the MFDA Investor Protection Corporation). The views and opinions, including any recommendations, expressed in this article are those of Howard Goodman alone and they are not those of HollisWealth®

HG Partners Limited is an independent company. iA Financial Group and Industrial Alliance companies have no liability for activities outside of HollisWealth®