These 25 charities were the ones that stood out when it came to our standards for transparency, efficiency and accountability. The letter grade shows how well they did at reporting the social impact of their work to donors. Grades with an asterisk were assigned by the Financial Post; grades without an asterisk indicate those given by Charity Intelligence Canada.
ACCESS TO FOOD AND WATER
• WaterAid Canada: A*
Improves access to water and toilets in developing countries
• Canadian Foodgrains Bank Association: B+
Provides food aid and support growing food to people in the developing world
• Food Banks Canada: A
An umbrella organization for food banks across Canada
• Food for the Hungry Canada: B-
A Christian organization that works to end poverty and improve access to food and clean water in the developing world
• Indspire: B+
Provides educational support to Canadian First Nations people
• CODE: B+
Supports literacy and learning in Canada and around the world
• The Nature Conservancy of Canada: A
Protects areas of natural diversity
• Canadian Wildlife Federation: B+
Advocates for the protection of Canada’s wild species and spaces
• Doctors Without Borders Canada: B
Provides international medical relief
• Medecins du Monde: A-*
Offers humanitarian aid that adapts to the needs of populations suffering from a lack of access to health care
• Stephen Lewis Foundation: B-
Works with community-level organizations to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa
• The Canadian Red Cross Society: B+
Provides disaster relief, delivers community health services, provides first aid training
• Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities: B
Assists with the costs of children’s sports programming
• Sleeping Children Around the World: B+
Provides bedkits to children in need, particularly in developing countries.
• Christian Children’s Fund of Canada: B+
Runs a child sponsorship program to provide poor children in developing countries with necessities
• Coptic Orphans Support Association: B-*
Provides support to Coptic Christian orphans and widows in Egypt
• World Vision Canada: B
A Christian relief, development and advocacy organization that is dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice
• Compassion Canada: A-
Partners with the local church in 26 countries to end poverty in the lives of children and their families.
• Plan International Canada: B+
An international development charity that is also behind Because I Am a Girl, a global initiative to end gender inequality
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada: A-
Operates mentoring programs for children
• Canadian Women’s Foundation: A
Empowers women and girls in Canada to move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence
• Oxfam Canada: B
Works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive
• CUSO International: B+
Sends volunteers abroad to reduce global poverty
• International Development and Relief Foundation: B-
Provides humanitarian aid and sustainable development programs based on the Islamic principles of human dignity, self reliance and social justice
• ERDO: B
Provides short-term crisis relief and long-term development support to communities in need around the world.
RED FLAG: UNACCEPTABLE TAX RETURN FILINGS
Girl Guides of Canada and MADD Canada were among the charities whose expenses didn’t add up to the total. Both committed to contacting the CRA to amend their filings after the Financial Post contacted them about the errors.
RED FLAG: OVER-HEAVY OVERHEAD
The Canadian Stem Cell Foundation reported spending only 14% of its budget on charitable activities. The next two biggest spenders on overhead were the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, which only directed 15% of its budget to charitable programs, and Smile Train Canada, which reported spending just 21% of its budget on cleft-lip and -palate surgery for children in developing countries.
RED FLAG: MOST EXPENSIVE FUNDRAISING
Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs got a red flag once again, with a whopping 88% of donations eaten up by fundraising costs. Smile Train Canada, which joined the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs in having some of the highest overhead costs of the charities analyzed by the Financial Post, also saw 88% of its donations go to fundraising costs.
RED FLAG: JUST PLAIN STRANGE
Trinity Global Support Foundation, a charity with close ties to former London, Ont. mayor Joe Fontana that said it fed hungry children and provided educational materials to the needy. The CRA has revoked its charitable status for allegedly running a tax-shelter scheme. Toronto’s MaRs Discovery District…. had to be bailed out by the province of Ontario because of trouble meeting payments on its downtown Toronto tower. Islamic Relief Canada ended up pulled from this year’s list due to the fact that its international arm has been banned elsewhere (though not in Canada) for allegedly funneling funds to the terrorist organization Hamas.