"I'm from Canada." "Vancouver?" "Yes, it's a beautiful city."
I live in New York City, and these are often the first three statements out of my mouth at any given dinner party, meeting or chance introduction. Any Canadian who has traveled out of the country will recognize this typical line of questioning. First, "Where are you from?" Second, "Oh really, whereabouts?" Third, "I hear it's beautiful..."
All over the world, even if people are unable to place the city or town we are from, they do tend to agree on one thing: Canada is a beautiful country. What they are thinking about, of course, are our mountains, oceans, frozen tundra and abundant wildlife. But not one person has ever mentioned one of the things that I think makes Canada truly beautiful: our generosity.
Every year, the World Giving Index ranks Canada in the top five of all the countries in the world. In the last year, 44 percent of Canadians have volunteered and 67 percent have made a donation to a charitable organization. In the last month, 69 percent of us say we have helped a stranger in need.
We have seen this generosity come alive in a project we launched in the U.S. but is fast becoming an annual tradition in Canada -- #GivingTuesday. The idea is simple. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two days for getting deals, what about #GivingTuesday? A day for giving back.
The first Canadian #GivingTuesday was in 2013. More than 1,300 partners across the country launched campaigns that showcased the inherent generosity of Canadians. And we saw promising results, including a 93 percent increase in mobile giving. Last year was even bigger, with some creative and dynamic campaigns. Guelph Gives raised $1M in its community. Dress for Success Calgary celebrated #GivingShoesDay, encouraging #shoegooder women to donate shoes to Dress for Success affiliates. We saw some humorous efforts, too, like the Children's Aid Foundation's campaign with their "GIVE'R" tagline. Only in Canada does that even make sense.
In 2015, there are over 4,000 partners taking part. What strikes me as most poignant this year is how #GivingTuesday will rally people to support great organizations in all corners of the country. From the Churchill Northern Studies Center serving subarctic research to Ann Elmore Transition House on Northern Vancouver Island to the Nunavut Literacy Council. As Canadians, we may be separated by thousands of miles, but on Giving Tuesday we are connected by our shared capacity to get behind a good cause.
#GivingTuesday has grown for one reason: Canada's proud philanthropic spirit. Helping is at the heart of who we are as a country. As we approach #GivingTuesday on December 1, I hope you will join people across the country in coming together to give, volunteer and support one another.
We are known around the world for the breathtaking vastness of our country. But if you really want to understand the true beauty of Canada, I think you can find it in the depth of our generosity.