Leave a Legacy Month: Five easy ways to give back

Leave a Legacy Month: Five easy ways to give back

Among the many ways to give back to society, donating is one of the simplest and easiest. However, you may find yourself hesitant to donate. Perhaps you believe that your donation won’t make an impact, or that you simply cannot afford to give back at this time in your life.

Rest assured, this isn’t true…

Did you know that May is LEAVE A LEGACY™ Month in Canada? The Alzheimer Society of Canada and RBC Wealth Management, Estate & Trust Services are partnering up to help you decide what’s the best way to give back.

Among the many ways to give back to society, donating is one of the simplest and easiest. However, you may find yourself hesitant to donate. Perhaps you believe that your donation won’t make an impact, or that you simply can’t afford to give back at this time in your life.

Rest assured, this isn’t true. All donations of any size have a lasting impact on society. Consider the following reasons to donate to the Alzheimer Society, for instance:

  • Your donation funds programs and services that support people living with dementia and their caregivers across the country.
  • Your donation also helps research into the causes for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as finding treatments and, one day, a cure.
  • Donating can be a good way to honour the memory of a family member or friend.
  • And, of course, you get to decide what amount is within your means to give.

But the positives of donating don’t only lie with the recipient. Donating benefits the donor (you!) as well. Besides the feelings of generosity and happiness that making a donation can give you, you may also be surprised to find how simple and rewarding charitable giving can be. And, no matter how you wish to donate, there is a charitable giving option that works for you.

So, what are the different ways of charitable giving? And, more importantly, how do you figure out which way works for you? That will depend on what you’re looking for—do you want a solution that integrates charitable giving into your financial plan, or are you looking to fulfill your legacy wishes? Or something else? To help you decide, let’s look at five easy ways to give back.

1. Donating in cash

This is the most common way to making charitable donations. If you’re looking to make a cash donation, why not start with your place of work? Some employers offer payroll deductions and tax receipts to make it easier for their employees to give back to their communities. With careful consideration, your contributions can make an impact on the communities and charities that mean the most to you and your loved ones.

Many charitable organizations also offer pre-authorized monthly giving options, either through your bank account or credit card.  The Alzheimer Society’s Monthly Giving program is one such example. Donating with a pre-planned amount helps you plan your own budget while also helping charities establish their research funding goals.

And, when you make a donation to a charitable organization, you’ll receive a tax donation receipt which can be claimed on your tax return as a credit.

Donation tax credit

Charitable donations attract both federal and provincial non-refundable tax credits. On the federal side, you get a credit of 15 per cent for the first $200 of annual charitable donations. The federal credit rate jumps to 29 per cent for cumulative donations above $200.

Provincial tax credits work similarly, although not all provinces have adopted their top tax rate as their top provincial donation credit rate.

2. Donating non-registered securities

If you don’t want to donate cash, consider non-registered securities. If you are holding publicly traded securities which have appreciated in value in your non-registered account (i.e., not held in a RRSP or RRIF), consider donating them “in-kind” to a charity.

What’s the advantage of doing it this way? You’ll receive a tax receipt equal to the fair market value of the securities donated, and you won’t be taxed on the capital gains accrued on those securities, as you would be were you to either sell the securities during your lifetime or own them at your death.

3. Naming a charity as a beneficiary in your Will

Determining how your estate will be distributed is a key step in estate planning. Thoughtful estate planning can ensure that the people and causes that mean most to you will be taken care of at your passing.

This goal can be achieved in a number of ways.  You may want to benefit a charity or charities by choosing to leave a set cash legacy, direct that specific assets (publicly-traded shares or land, for example) are bequeathed, or bequeath a share of the residue of your estate.

Choosing to donate to a charity through your Will has its benefits. You enjoy the use of your assets while you’re alive, and know that upon death, your Executors will donate to the charities of your choosing as outlined in your Will. Enhanced charitable tax credits may also be available.

For more information on the benefits of leaving a charitable bequest as well as estate planning resources, check out the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s page on leaving a gift in your Will.

4. Creating a charitable remainder trust

If you are comfortable living off the income produced by assets, you may want to take advantage of the tax benefits that a living trust can provide. You receive the income from the trust throughout your lifetime, but upon your death, the “remainder” will pass directly to the charity you name as the beneficiary.

5. Creating a donor advised fund

If you want to create a legacy by donating a lump sum now, but have it spread out to various charities or over several years, consider establishing a donor advised fund. This effectively creates a pseudo foundation for a fraction of the cost of setting up a private foundation. You receive the tax receipt at the time the donation is made, and can then allocate the funds to any of Canada’s registered charities.


These are just a few options to consider as you plan your charitable giving. To learn about more options, seek tax advice, and receive consultation on what works best for your interests, speak to your financial advisor for more information.

Want to learn more about donating to the Alzheimer Society of Canada? Visit our page on Ways to donate.


This document has been prepared for use by the RBC Wealth Management member companies, RBC Dominion Securities Inc.*, RBC Phillips, Hager & North Investment Counsel Inc., Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and The Royal Trust Company (collectively, the “Companies”) and certain divisions of the Royal Bank of Canada. *Member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Each of the Companies and the Royal Bank of Canada are separate corporate entities which are affiliated. The information provided in this document is not intended as, nor does it constitute, tax or legal advice. The information provided should only be used in conjunction with a discussion with a qualified legal, tax or other professional advisor when planning to implement a strategy. ® / TM Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. ©Royal Bank of Canada 2018. All rights reserved.

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