When Life Happens: Charitable Giving in Hard Times

  • By Bonnie Hooley, B.S.W., C.I.R.P.

Winnipeg was once again rated as one of the most generous cities in Canada. Year after year we continue to hold that honour. It’s not surprising, ‘Friendly Manitoba’ takes pride in its generosity. Parents model charitable giving behaviour for their children so that the traditions we value will be passed on to the next generation.

It’s not uncommon to see families shopping together to fill those shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. We gather clothes and slightly used toys to drop off at shelters or collection boxes. On Sunday mornings, when getting ready for church, we hand out the offering to our little ones for the Sunday School collection. All this so that our children learn at an early age the importance of sharing with those less fortunate.

I have personally witnessed my neighbour shovelling snow with her children at the home of an elderly couple because she values and models helping others in need.

For many of us, this generosity is more than just tradition, for some, it hits the center of our core values.

The Moral Dilemma

What does one do when they find themselves struggling financially? When life happens?

How do we uphold our core values of being charitable, when we are the ones struggling to make ends meet?

Financial problems can hit anyone. Financial difficulty is not limited by race, age, occupation, ethnicity or religion. It is no respecter of persons.

It affects so many aspects of our well-being and without professional help, it can be hard to recover from. Financial difficulty has been commonly known to affect:

  • physical health
  • mental health and
  • relationships

For those who model generosity through charitable giving, it can also be a threat to their traditional core values.

Guidance

Research shows, that debt problems do not have to be as overwhelming or hopeless as they appear. Like any problem we face, the responsible thing to do is seek professional help.

A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) is the most experienced, and best-informed professional in the area of debt relief. In fact, LITs are the only professionals licensed and regulated by the Canadian government to deal with Consumer Proposals and Bankruptcies. A LIT will help point you in the right direction. With a free consultation, they can assess the situation and provide viable options to help you get back on their feet – options that work for your unique situation.

They can also help provide solutions for ensuring that your creditors are being treated fairly, while your core values are protected.

Charity and Insolvency

Can someone who has sought the help of a Licensed Insolvency Trustee continue with their charitable practices? If you file a Bankruptcy or Consumer Proposal, can you still donate to your favourite charity?

Most certainly!

Neither a Bankruptcy nor Consumer Proposal needs to interfere with your charitable giving. It’s about balance. In both a proposal and bankruptcy, there are payment requirements – funds you pay to your LIT for the benefit of your creditors. The balance of your income is left to you, to financially orchestrate as you please. Whether you have a third world child that you have sponsored for years, feel a commitment to tithing within your worship community, or have a local charity that you have been involved with and supported for years, you can continue your charitable giving as long as you can find a way to fit it into your budget. In fact, without your debt hanging over your head, you will likely find it easier to keep up your charitable commitments.

Tithing While Bankrupt

We are often asked, “Can I Tithe, while I am in a Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal?” The answer is yes.

Neither a Bankruptcy nor a Proposal would interfere with that. Like any other charitable giving, it’s about balance.

Wait a minute, isn’t tithing and filing for bankruptcy at odds, in the value system? After all, isn’t the bible against bankruptcy?

Anyone who says that has forgotten that God ordained years of jubilee, as taught in the scripture. The book of Deuteronomy talks at length about the years of jubilee. There was an understanding right from the outset that sometimes people just need to wipe out their debt and start over. It was not looked down upon. It was understood as a necessary process for ensuring the well-being of society. People carrying an unbearable load of debt need to be able to leave that debt behind and resume their role as productive and contributing citizens.

Of course, in the normal course of affairs, we are expected to pay our debts as they become due. But when life happens, and we are in over our head, there are responsible ways of dealing with your debt. Changing your name and moving to another country would not be responsible. Filing a Consumer Proposal or an Assignment in Bankruptcy is responsible. It is you, doing the best that you can, under the circumstances you find yourself in.

Be Creative

To say that we cannot be generous when finances are tough, undermines the true values of charity. Being charitable is not just for the wealthy. Winnipeg has proven that it’s for everyone. Often the poorest people are the most generous. They have learned how to balance their finances with their generosity. They have learned to be creative.

Winnipeg has no shortage of local stories about how the poorest and frailest among us have found creative ways to showcase Winnipeg’s generous giving. Ron Eldridge, a former homeless man, has been reported in the local paper many times for his projects to help the homeless. Callie Costello, a 10-year-old girl, is well known to Winnipeg for her generosity.

There are many such reported stories of local Winnipeggers who have been creative in their generosity and there are many more that go unreported.

When Life Happens

So what do you do when life happens? Seek the professional help of a reputable firm, such as LCTaylor, and get their assistance to balance your core values with your current financial situation. Then, you can once again be creative with your generosity

So take the family out to fill those Christmas shoeboxes if that is a tradition. Just ensure you are balancing moderation with the reality of your situation. Be creative in your generosity. Be cognizant that helping others does not have to be about money. Let the greatest among you, become the servant.

A true Winnipegger who values generosity will model it with both finances and time. In this way, the tradition of Winnipeg’s generosity will continue to rank among the best in the country.

Bonnie Hooley, B.S.W., C.I.R.P.

Bonnie has worked in the insolvency field since 1980. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, with a degree in Social Work. In 1999 she attained her license as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Bonnie has her Foundation Studies in Accounting from the Certified General Accountants (CGA). She is Read More Bonnie has worked in the insolvency field since 1980. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, with a degree in Social Work. In 1999 she attained her license as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. Bonnie has her Foundation Studies in Accounting from the Certified General Accountants (CGA). She is a member of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) and Past President of the Manitoba Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (MAIRP).Bonnie has served on various boards within her community. Her hobby is quilting, her passion is Christ. Close

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