Is Winnipeg a Charitable City?

Image: kuarmungadd, Adobe Stock

Winnipeg may be small compared to other cities, but we have big hearts – and it shows.

Holiday cheer is in the air – and on the streets – of Winnipeg. Thousands of people lined Portage Avenue for the annual Santa Claus Parade, decorative lights are hanging through Downtown and stores are full of people looking for the perfect gift.

This is an exciting time for many people – but it’s also an important time to remember those without food, shelter and other basic needs during our cold winters. Poverty is a reality for many people in our city –  and a reality check on how inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable Winnipeg really is.

Using data from Peg, we can measure Winnipeg’s homelessness, volunteerism, food bank use and charitable donations to track our progress in three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) and Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16).

Winnipeg surpasses national average for charitable donations

Charitable donations make a significant difference in our community, supporting organizations with causes and values Winnipeggers believe in. They contribute to well-being and sustainability.

Peg data tells us Winnipeggers’ charitable donations are increasing at a faster rate than the national average. Over a ten-year period, the median dollar amount Winnipeggers donated increased $90 — from $320 in 2007 to $410 in 2017.

Supporting our most vulnerable together

Not-for-profit agencies that work to improve conditions and bring much-needed help to the most vulnerable Winnipeggers often depend upon our generosity. Peg tells us the average charitable donation by Winnipeggers has risen steadily over the past 20 years. This is good news for social agencies doing frontline work, especially at a critical time when many of them are being rallied to work towards an inspirational goal—ending homelessness.

A city cannot be considered sustainable as long as some of its citizens continue to be homeless. In 2018, 1,500 Winnipeggers identified as homeless during the Winnipeg Street Census Survey.

A home is a basic need and critical to well-being. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights identifies housing as a human right, and yet many people in our city lack the physical safety and peace of mind of a home. This directly affects other important social indicators like quality of life, education, employment, health and a healthy social network.

Who is affected by homelessness?

Homelessness affects a broad spectrum of people, including some of the city’s most vulnerable populations: youth, women, children and seniors. There are many factors that contribute to homelessness.

End Homelessness Winnipeg (EHW), created to lead and coordinate our city’s plan to end homelessness, is working within the homelessness-serving sector and across all sectors to align priorities and strategies so we can end homelessness in Winnipeg.  The root causes of homelessness are complex, including mental illness, substance abuse, brain injury, PTSD and developmental disorders. This complexity means that we need to work collaboratively to provide the necessary supports and changes.

How does Winnipeggers’ generosity factor in?

EHW has identified four pillars around prevention, person-centred supports, housing supply and measurement. EHW, acting as a backbone organization, partners with and works to coordinate the efforts of many community agencies on the front lines. They are providing the support people need to lift themselves out of homelessness and doing the work to address root causes. These EHW partners often depend upon the generosity of Winnipeggers.

The vision of ending homelessness is one all Winnipeggers share and can contribute to as our charitable donations continue to support the agencies shaping its foundation. But Winnipeggers are also generous with their time—something also critical to the success of our social agencies and the people they serve.

How many Winnipegers are volunteering their time?

Time is one of the most valuable things we can give to our community. Volunteerism is strongly related to the social vitality of our community and supporting the basic needs of our vulnerable populations. Whether it’s fundraising, organizing events, sitting on a board, teaching or mentoring, volunteering makes a difference in our city.

Though volunteerism in Winnipeg declined from 46% in 2008 to 35% in 2010, our most recent Peg data shows 38% of Winnipeggers volunteered their time, skills and commitment to a variety of local organizations in 2013.

Based on the nature of Winnipeggers and other positive indicators of increasing efforts to support those in need, we hope to see an increase in volunteerism as new data emerges.

Winnipeg is making positive progress when it comes to volunteering and making charitable donations. Our efforts are most effective when we focus on the root causes of need and on organizations that contribute to a more sustainable city where everyone can thrive. By measuring our progress on indicators such as homelessness, food bank use, charitable donations and volunteerism, we can begin to understand how together we can create a more sustainable city without poverty and hunger.

Browse for more information on indicators tracking poverty, charitability and more.

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