Giving back at every stage of life

#Life after work

Exploring the many ways you can give back to your community

Year after year, Canada is consistently ranked one of the most generous nations in the world – with both our time and money.1 

For many Canadians, giving back is a part of life.

Whether you’re motivated by altruism, faith, community or the desire to leave your mark on the world, giving back benefits both donor and recipient. When you volunteer, it creates social connection (which helps prevent isolation and depression) and new research suggests it also helps improve physical health by lowering blood pressure and lengthening life.2

While many people would like to help more, sometimes we have more money than time and other times we have more time than money. Here are some examples of people giving back in different ways:

Sometimes we have more money than time and other times we have more time than money.
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Doug recently retired after a career in manufacturing. He misses his regular routine and money is a bit tight. As a tribute to his late mother, who died of cancer, he volunteers at a hospice for those living with terminal illness. Volunteering lets him help others in need while honouring his mother and continuing her legacy.

Christina is in her late thirties with a busy career with four children. While she doesn’t have time for a regular volunteer commitment, she likes to instill a community-minded spirit with her children and, when she can, spends family time around activities like Earth Day cleanups and neighbourhood charity drives. In addition, she always donates money to friends who share their fundraising efforts on social media. This way she not only keeps in touch, but helps out a worthy cause, too.

Hazel’s passionate about helping animals – she’s been that way her entire life. She fosters homeless pets, to help them find forever homes. When she dies, most of Hazel’s life insurance and investment proceeds will go to a local animal shelter. It’s a substantial gift for her furry friends.

Tips for contributing with your time, money or assets:

Children can be very passionate and curious about the world. Encourage them to stand up for what they believe in and how they can make a difference in their own way. Teach that giving is important all year round, not just during the holidays.

For many students, volunteering is mandatory. Not only is this a great way to give back, but it’s a chance to get experience doing things that may help their career path.

Share your knowledge or skills. If you have financial or entrepreneurial smarts, share your knowledge with a group of students through a small business centre or an organization like Junior Achievement.

Be more than a slacktivist – it takes more than just sharing a meme or signing a petition to make a difference. Why not put your writing or creative skills to work? Start a blog, write to your member of provincial or federal parliament, or create posters or signs.

Short on money but have a vehicle and a bit of time? Become a volunteer driver for your hospital, or Meals on Wheels.

Declutter and donate. If you have a hard time parting with some sentimental (but unused) stuff, take a picture for the memories before donating. You’ll probably feel better knowing that someone else can really use or truly enjoy it.

To find the right volunteer opportunity for you, check out To learn more about how you can make charitable giving a part of your financial security plan, contact your advisor or find one near you.


1Annual report based on Gallup data measuring how often people volunteered their time, donated money to a charity or helped a stranger Charities Aid Foundation – World Giving Index reportsOpens a new website in a new window

2Volunteering may be good for body and mind, Harvard Health BlogOpens a new website in a new window