There are numerous ways to support grassroots causes in Toronto, from group volunteer opportunities and donations to renting neighbourhood venues and supporting community fundraisers.


A woman stands in front of a crowd in the Arrell Family Auditorium at CAMH's Suits Me Fine Patient Fashion Show i
Arrell Family Auditorium at the Suits Me Fine Patient Fashion Show | Courtesy of CAMH

There's a growing desire among meeting and event planners, delegates and attendees to make a meaningful impact on local communities. And Toronto offers a wealth of inspiration for creating lasting and positive change. Here are some creative ways to support charitable causes at your next business event.

1. Make a donation to a local Toronto charity

For planners wishing to organize donations among their event attendees, there are many Toronto-based charities to choose from.

DonateTO, a city-run initiative connecting donors with giving opportunities, showcases organizations that are doing everything from supporting refugee claimants and asylum seekers, expanding the city’s urban forest, upgrading the High Park Zoo, and building a Spirit Garden, which is meant to provide a contemplative space at Nathan Phillips Square in honour of residential school survivors.


2. Give goods you no longer need to communities that need it

Making a financial contribution isn’t the only way to give back. Planners can donate lightly used materials purchased for the meeting or encourage attendees to contribute goods, too.

Habitat for Humanity’s Habitat ReStore accepts items that consumers might like to purchase for their homes—such as decor, furniture, lighting, table linens, carpeting and flooring, appliances, construction material and even event swag such as candles, coffee mugs, tote bags, packaged treats, specialty teas and notebooks. Donations are either sold at the retail locations or in ReStore’s online shop and proceeds go to support affordable homeownership.

A Habitat for Humanity ReStore Volunteer stocking the shelves
A Habitat for Humanity ReStore Volunteer stocks the shelves with donated goods

“We know that time is tight [when tearing down an event],” says Rob Lee, executive vice president, ReStore GTA, which operates 10 home improvement retail stores across the Greater Toronto Area. “[So] we’re always willing to come down and take a look at large quantity of things that are not usually donated to our stores, such as houseplants.”

CAMH’s Gifts of Light program accepts basic necessities, such as toiletries, as well as passes for local art and music workshops, fitness classes, museums, galleries and attractions. And their Suits Me Fine clothing boutique accepts donations of new and gently used clothing. Both programs offer these items to CAMH clients free of charge.

There’s also Furniture Bank, a social enterprise that helps keep furniture out of landfills by donating couches, tables, chairs, et cetera to families and newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area. 

3. Gather your team and volunteer together 

There are plenty of places across Toronto where event attendees can participate in team-building volunteer opportunities together. You can lend your hand at a Habitat for Humanity Canada residential house construction build or at a Habitat ReStore GTA distribution centre. “This is where we process all of our ReStore donations,” says Lee. “It’s a really great way to learn about our operations.”

Other volunteer opportunities include helping to sort food bank donations at the Daily Bread Food Bank or assembling gifts for patients and their families at Holland Bloorview, a children’s rehabilitation hospital.

4. Rent a neighbourhood venue to help support local non-profit organizations

Renting a neighbourhood venue for your event helps support local issues that matter to Torontonians—and your event attendees—most.

There’s CAMH’s new state-of-the-art Arrell Family Foundation Auditorium located on its downtown campus. This light-filled venue is perfect for group functions thanks to a retractable, 300-seat auditorium setup that easily transforms into a gala space for hosting cocktail receptions or special dinners, says Geoffrey Chown, Director of Events at CAMH. The organization also rents out TD Commons, a green space available for outdoor functions.

Man in traditional Indigenous ceremony dress dancing at a Powow at CAMH, outdoors
CAMH Pow Wow at TD Commons | Courtesy of CAMH

Evergreen, an environmental non-profit, has several event spaces at Brick Works, a 135-year-old abandoned brick factory tucked in the ravines along the Don River. The spaces include everything from four meeting rooms that hold up to 60 people to CRH Gallery and Koerner Gardens, a 27,000-square-foot space that has a capacity for 2,000 event attendees.

5. Include participation in a local fundraiser as part of your event programming

Another opportunity to support charitable causes at your business event is to include an opportunity for event attendees to participate in a community fundraiser as part of your programming.

For example, UnMasked, CAMH’s signature fundraising event, which next takes place on June 5, 2024, has guests move from one intimate dinner party to another hosted at art galleries in the downtown core. This culinary experience features menus created by close to two dozen of the city’s top chefs and is followed by an exclusive after party.

On June 6, 2024, Scrubs in the City, a fundraiser for Sick Kids Hospital, will take place at Evergreen Brick Works. The event is a Mexican-inspired fiesta and all proceeds will help fund neurosurgery and neurodiagnostic lab equipment for one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world.