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The number of Canadians giving to charitable causes and the amounts they are giving are on the rise, according to new research.

BMO Harris Private Banking, a unit BMO Financial Group, Toronto, published this finding in a summary of results from a new survey of 1,000 Canadians. BMO’s Second Annual Philanthropy Report incorporates the results of a poll conducted in October by Pollara Strategic Insights, Toronto.

The survey reveals that almost 79 percent of Canadians made a charitable donation over the last 12 months, up from 68 percent last year. The amount they are giving has also increased, to $557 this year from an average of $487 in 2011.

Ontario led the country with both the highest percentage of individuals (85 percent) who donated in 2012 and with the highest average amount ($778) given as well. The Prairies were the second highest region with 84 percent donating and an average amount of $751, followed by residents in Atlantic Canada at 78 percent with an average of $616.

According to the report, the most popular causes Canadians supported include:

  • Health and medical (60 percent)
  • Anti-poverty (45 percent)
  • Animal welfare (30 percent)
  • Education (19 percent)

The report also finds that only one in five (18 percent) of Canadians have a strategy for giving. And more than four in ten (45 percent) donate to causes on an ad-hoc basis.

Additionally, just over half (51 percent) of the survey respondents involve their spouse or partner in their giving decisions. And only 15 percent  involve their children.