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Creative giving 6 min read

Novel ways to give back this holiday season

From gifting in kind to setting up a foundation, explore these creative ways to make a difference.

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 edition of Grow Together, a publication of CWB Wealth.


Jen Schmid, MPAcc, CA, CFP, R.F.P.

Private Wealth Advisor, Financial Planner, CWB Wealth


Another holiday season is just around the corner and with it comes reflections on what it really means to us as human beings. It can be a time of healing, renewal, love, tolerance, and kindness towards others. More than just an excuse to decorate our houses or drink eggnog, it’s also a time to pause and be thankful for the people and things we have. In doing so, we might find ourselves wondering how we can show appreciation and give back to our families, friends, communities and to those less fortunate than us.

Besides pulling out your wallet and dropping a $20 in the Salvation Army collection bucket on your way into the grocery store, there are some novel ways you can accomplish your giving goals this season. Here are a few that you may want to consider.

Dash the cash – gift in kind

Donating cash to your favorite charity is probably the simplest way to give, but did you know there’s an incredibly tax-effective way of gifting to charities instead? This is done by donating securities to charities instead of cash – called gifting in kind.
Many registered Canadian charities have brokerage accounts by which to receive shares of publicly traded companies, units of mutual funds or units of ETFs, so it can be a relatively simple process to transfer an equivalent amount of shares to the charity in lieu of cash.

The advantage to donating in this way is that you avoid paying tax on the capital gains associated with the shares you donate, plus you get the value of the donated shares as a tax credit via the donation slip that’s issued from the charity – it’s a double dip of tax savings!

Set up a foundation

Setting up a foundation might sound daunting, but the process can be made quite simple by partnering with an organization that allows you to set up a foundation account. Your advisor can help you source a reputable one. By establishing a customized foundation account (also sometimes called Donor Advised Funds), you can cut out much of the administration, legal fees and time associated with setting up a private foundation. You can also create a long-term funding base to support your favorite charities’ immediate needs, while leaving a lasting legacy.

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Give the gift of time

A gift doesn’t always have to be money to make meaningful change. Rather, a gift of your time, effort or expertise can be just as effective and significant as opening your wallet. Volunteering can be a great way to give back to a cause that has special meaning for you. And because many not-for-profit organizations or programs couldn’t run without volunteers, it makes your gift of time important. You could stuff baskets, collect donations, or drop off meals to elderly residents in your spare time. Or consider lending expertise to charitable organizations by sitting on their Board of Directors and guiding their vision for the future.

Align your gifting with your business

If you’re a business owner, you could consider aligning your gifting with the industry you operate in. Do you own a restaurant business? You could donate meals to a local shelter or to an organization that distributes surplus food to those in need. Are you in the clothing retail business? Donate your clothing to thrift stores. Do you have an accounting or tax practice? You could volunteer tax preparation services to families that cannot afford to have their returns prepared, or to newcomers to Canada who are unfamiliar with our tax regime. It’s easy to take what you do every day in your business and give back in that way to meet your gifting aspirations.

Leverage your assets

Maybe donating money or time aren’t good options for you at this time. Don’t worry. There are still ways to make an impact by leveraging the assets you might already have. For example, you could get a significant tax break by donating a painting, sculpture or other item to a museum or charity as a gift or under a certification as cultural property.

Alternatively, you could apply to several different programs to have your cottage, rental property, second home, or unused spare room in your current home rented to Canadian newcomers or refugees for either temporary or long-term housing until they’re able to find their own accommodations and employment in the country.

You could also gift any type of real estate property, whether it’s vacant land or commercial property. Keep in mind that there may be tax implications for doing so. For example, if you donate land or interest in land that’s ecologically sensitive (eco-gifts), you can create a protected space that endures in perpetuity, providing a significant legacy for you and your family. And the best part is that eco-gifts receive tax treatment superior to most other charitable gifts.

The holiday season isn’t just about the presents under the tree, it’s about bringing people together, regardless of their beliefs or traditions and fostering gratitude, hospitality, and generousity. The above novel ways to give back show how you can care for others in small gestures or large deeds, and every way in between.

Our Private Wealth Advisors have aided many families in choosing a method that works for their specific situation to fulfill their philanthropic and gifting goals. Whether it’s helping set up a foundation account, research into partnering organizations or if you’re simply unsure as to where to begin, we can help.

Information presented herein is for discussion and illustrative purposes only and is not a recommendation or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities. Views expressed are as of the date indicated, based on the information available at that time, and may change based on market and other conditions. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions provided are those of the authors and not necessarily those of CWB Wealth or its affiliates. CWB Wealth does not assume any duty to update any of the information. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s own goals, time horizon, and tolerance for risk. Nothing in this content should be considered to be legal or tax advice and you are encouraged to consult your own lawyer, accountant or other advisor before making any financial decision. Quoted yields should not be construed as an amount an investor would receive from the Fund and are subject to change. Investors should consult their financial advisor before making a decision as to whether mutual funds are a suitable investment for them. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments.

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