Jim MacDonald has seen almost every aspect of philanthropy over the years. He has been a major donor, volunteered on various fundraising committees and served as a director of several charitable foundations.
“The majority of my giving is to those who can’t otherwise get it themselves,” said Mr. MacDonald, 67, who works in Winnipeg for RBC Dominion Securities Inc.
“I almost can’t say no to anyone. Some poor bugger comes to the door and it’s cold, on a miserable night, I just think ‘Good on you.’ Here’s $50 and they go, ‘Wow.’ And I’m feeling guilty.”
Mr. MacDonald wasn’t always so generous. He said it took him several years of working before he began to reflect on how fortunate he had been. “It was only when I got back [from university in the United States]and probably a year or two into my business career that all of sudden I reflected back and thought, ‘Boy was I ever lucky to get everything that I got.’ ”
He has since donated money to dozens of charities around Winnipeg, including $1-million to the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. He has also served on the board of Ducks Unlimited, the United Way, Manitoba Lung Association and The Nature Conservancy. Many of those organizations didn’t feel the impact of the recession too significantly with donations, he added. “A recession doesn’t stop us or slow us down necessarily,” he said. “It might slow down our success rate.”
Mr. MacDonald said he understands why older people tend to be among the most generous donors in Canada. “First of all, they can afford it,” he said. “And they have a better sense of what causes philanthropy. You look back and reflect on what you had or didn’t have.”