Guest Blogger: Josh Swallow is an undergrad student at Texas A&M. He is currently in his final year and exploring opportunities in the non-profit sector for his career.  This summer he spent time working at Dexterity, meeting with charities, donors and social entrpereneurs.

I think it is safe to say that technology has had a huge part in my life since the day that I was born. So many aspects of my life have been made “easier” because of it. For example, paying my bills at university is one of the simplest things in the world now (aside from having to let go of them sweet, sweet, dollar bills y’all) that takes a few minutes of my time whereas it used to be somewhat of an ordeal. This is a simple example but the same concept can be applied to charitable giving. So how has technology affected the charitable sector?

A matching donation from the government is your tax dollars at work.  So when the government says they are matching your donation - you are, in essence, paying twice (sometimes three times) for that single donation and ultimately, single tax credit.

All the more reason why you should be asking questions to the recipient charity.  Here are some suggested questions:

In July 2008 I wrote a piece for the Calgary Herald on charities and overhead.  Then in June 2013 as a result of the Alberta Flood this issue came up again in response to the Canadian Red Cross and the lack of transparency.  Fast forward a few more years and once again a natural disaster, this time the Fort McMurray Fire has brought this issue to the forefront of donors’ minds.  So I thought I should break down the cost of doing “The Business of Philanthropy.”

Every time you make a donation to a charity there is a cost.  Who pays this cost depends on how the transaction is made, what organization it is going to, how that agency is structured and what the internal capacity of the organization is to handle the transaction.

Thanks and Giving

This weekend marks the start of what is typically called the “Season of Giving.” It’s the first weekend where we, as a North American society, start to reflect back on the year and look at our impending tax bills and decide how much to give and to which charities.


We have all heard the phrases shared by the organizations that solicit us -

“A flat gift is a decreased gift as a result of inflation.”

“You can donate securities and receive additional tax credits so it is like your donation only costs you half of much.”

“If you donate a life insurance policy now, you can write off your premiums against your taxes.”


All of these comments speak to the fact that we have incentivized giving to the point of making it purely a financial planning and wealth management transaction.  What if, at this point in time, we started to not just look at our charitable activities as a way to manage our taxes, but also as a way to really illicit change in our communities?