Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Movie or mango tree? How your discretionary income can help others

Creatas Images/Getty Images/Creatas RF

This is part of The Globe and Mail's in-depth look at the evolution of philanthropy. Read more from the series here.

Before you leave work, you delete those guilt-inducing e-mail pleas for donations. As you head home, you're accosted by a fleece-vest-clad canvasser for an environmental NGO and rebuff his pitch. When you pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, you decline the cashier's suggestion that you donate $2 to the local hospital.

Hey, you're on a budget. How much can you really afford to give? Canadians' annual donations to charity climbed steadily for years, but in 2007, they settled in at $250 and haven't budged since. The bulk of your income may go to mortgage, car and food-related expenses, but there's probably plenty of discretionary spending happening too.

Story continues below advertisement

If you want to donate more, doing so is as simple as swapping out a "want" purchase for a "need" for someone else. If you gave up a personal indulgence, what charitable gift could you give?

A mani-pedi at a nail salon, $50 = Six household emergency kits for six families containing pots, pans, cups, plates, soap, toothbrushes, toilet paper and clothing from Oxfam Canada

The Tudors: Royal Collection box set on DVD, $120 = Enough food to feed a family of four for a week through the Calgary Food Bank

Citizens of Humanity men's jeans, $250 = A care package for families moving out of shelter into a new home from Red Door Family Shelter, Toronto

An Apple iPhone 4, $500 = A local water pump from Unicef

An afternoon snowboarding lesson, $100 = A sheep from CARE Canada, which can produce offspring that can be sold for income

A woman's leather coat, $400 = A crib mattress at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children for newborns under observation

Story continues below advertisement

A week's worth of grande lattes from Starbucks, $25 = A bed for a homeless teen to sleep on for one night in Toronto through Youth Without Shelter

Admission to a film, $12 = A mango tree from Plan Canada for income

A Barbie Jam Rock Star Guitar, $40 = A vaccine pack from Unicef containing 73 polio vaccines, 73 tetanus vaccines and 83 measles vaccines

Note: Some of the amounts have been rounded.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Dakshana Bascaramurty is a national news reporter who writes about race and ethnicity. She won a 2013 National Newspaper Award in beat reporting for her coverage of changing demographics in the 905 region. Previously, she was a feature writer for Globe Life. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.