The 2011 Charity 100

Where is your money going?

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Anyone who donates to charity has probably wondered how much of their money reaches the intended recipient. After all, charities have bills to pay too. Overhead expenses, fundraising, and marketing eat into each dollar raised for the cause. But how can you know how efficiently your money is being spent?

To help you find out, MoneySense magazine has created Canada’s first grading system for the country’s top 100 charities. We assign a charity standards grade to organizations based on how each charity performs in four categories:

•Charity efficiency;
•Fundraising efficiency;
•Governance and transparency; and
•Reserve fund size.

The table below will help you to sort charities by category and compare them to their peers. This will give you an idea of how well-run the organizations are and where your donations go.

However, we recommend that you do not use our grades in isolation when deciding which charities to support. Instead, use our grades as a starting point for your own research.

Related content:
Does it matter what the CEO of a charity is paid?
The bottom line
Video: The Charity 100, explained
The 2010 Charity 100

Browse list by categories

Animal Services

Culture & Research

Environment

Fundraising Organizations

Health/Health Services

Hospital Foundations

International Aid

Religion

Social Services

25 comments on “The 2011 Charity 100

  1. The numbers (and assigned grade) for the Canadian Diabetes Association suggest that the health charity shouldn't crack the "top 10." It spends more than $50 to raise $100? Wow. How does that pass muster with Canada Revenue Agency?

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  2. Too bad this survey didn't include some smaller charities- -www.hungryforlife.org is one where staff raise their own salaries and fund-raise for admin cost separately, so that 100% of donations for a given project go to the project.

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    • I don't this survey would recognize that fact anyway, since only simple numbers available from the T3010 appear to be used.

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  3. How do I get the complete list? I don't want it by category. I only want the complete list evaluated.

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    • Hi Pat,

      We evaluated the charities against their peers in order to provide an "apples to apples" comparison. There is no list which compares all 100 charities together.

      Sincerely,
      MoneySense staff

      Reply

      • MoneySense Staff,

        I'm confused by the stats given. A specific example would be #9 of the top 10. The percent of spending going to the programs is listed as 100%, but the executive salary is listed as $200,000 – $249,000, and the cost to raise $100 is $21.83. Is the 100% number a misprint?

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        • Hi Kas, Thanks for your interest in the Charity 100. It's important to understand that we include transfers to other charities as a program cost. The percentage of spending is based on how much of the expenditures go towards programs and donations to other charities. So for example, a charity that stashed away a bunch of money and donated it in one year could have more than 100% of its expenditures going to "programs" in a given year.

          Also, a staff salary is not necessarily considered an administrative cost. If a charity has doctors on staff their salaries may be considered part of programs. Sometimes there is a lack of consistency as to how charities classify expenses.

          Please see our methodology here:
          http://www.moneysense.ca/2011/06/22/charity-100-m

          Yours truly, Sarah Efron, MoneySense

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      • I've looked through the lists and can't find the charity SOS Children's Villages Canada, which I know is a large charity, and should be listed. How come you missed them? I've read their Canada Revenue report in previous years and they were excellent at managing their overheads. How are they doing currently? We donate to them regularly, and so it is of great interest to us.

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        • Hi TSD,

          Our list is made up of the 100 biggest charities in Canada, as measured by the amount of money received in donations and raised in fundraising. SOS was not big enough to make the list.

          cheers, Sarah

          Reply

  4. What about impact? Your tables don't show if the work the charities do actually achieve the intended outcomes and impacts. People focus way too much on admin fees and salaries and pay far too little attention to outcomes and impacts. If the programs/projects are doing what they are intended to do, then the entire process is inefficient and ineffective. I prefer to donate to organizations that may have a higher admin fee but can prove their programs/projects work rather than to an organization that has a lower admin fee but has no evidence to indicate they are making a difference.

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    • Hi Danielle,

      I agree that it is crucial for donors to look at the impact as well as the efficiency of a charity. We asked all the charities on our list to tells us what they accomplished that year. Their responses are here.
      http://www.moneysense.ca/2011/09/13/2011-charity-

      yours truly, Sarah

      Reply

  5. I didn't see ORBIS here. It's formed long time ago, even earlier than World Vision. Any reason behind?

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    • Hi Janet

      Our list is made up of the 100 biggest charities in Canada, as measured by the amount of money received in donations and raised in fundraising. ORBIS was not big enough to make the list.

      cheers, Sarah

      Reply

  6. There are very few Quebec charities mentioned. Does this indicate that the questionnaire you sent out was not bilingual? If so, shame, shame.

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    • Hi Jeanne,

      Thanks for your comment. The Charity 100 is sorted by the size of the charities according to donations, and the charities remain on our list regardless of their participation in our questionnaire. We have many Quebec organizations on the list, such as the Granby Zoo, Canadian Cancer Society Quebec Division, Fondation de l'Hopital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, Montreal General Hospital Foundation, Operation Enfant Soleil, etc. Our questionnaire is sent in English but we have French speaking staff who can assist if that is an issue for any organization.

      Yours truly, Sarah

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  7. Fantastic job on The 2011 Charity 100, Sarah Efron and Phil Froats. You've provided an excellent starting point for informed charitable giving in Canada, which has been lacking in this country. The criticisms of your rating system outlined in "The Charity 100 Story" don't generate any sympathy with me as a donor. Rosemary McCarney of Plan Canada says that high administration costs may reflect staff training or IT investment (affecting Plan Canada's charity efficiency score). I don't care. Train staff and invest in IT all you want, but cut costs elsewhere so that most of my donated dollar goes to programs. Knowing how much of my donation goes to progams (the charity efficiency score), is a simple, understandable and objective way for me to decide which charity to donate to. Dan Pallotta's comments are critical of MoneySense for its failure to include an objective rating on the impact charities are having. Objective measure of the impact of a charity? Good luck with that one. Besides, the name of the magazine is MoneySense; a measurement of charity impact is beyond its scope. Pallota says “If a charity spends 90 cents to raise a dollar and 10 cents goes to the cause, that’s better than if that 10 cents went to popcorn and a movie.” He is wrong. If 90 cents of my donated dollar goes to administration, that charity might as well buy popcorn and a movie with the rest because I've essentially thrown away my money anyway. Again, excellent job and I hope you have the resources/ability to expand the list of charities in future editions.

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  8. Thanks! This is great. I've been looking for something like this for a long time. Although not perfect, it certainly helps me. i give to other charities, eg Stephen Lewis Foundation. Would like to see stats on this one. Keep it up!

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  9. Thanks for the good information. I wish it was deeper or that there was something in Canada similar to CharityNavigator.org. In my mind I thought the The 2011 Charity 100 would be the best charities in Canada, you wrote the story as the biggest. Maybe next year you could do the best. A smaller charity could be way more efficient both in fundraising and programs than a large. Based on the short list some people may only donate to the ones listed even though they may only be moderately efficient. In any event it’s good information to start donating or to evaluate how you make donations. thanks

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  10. Thanks – job well done! However, the figures only apply to Canada – the international level (efficiency) of some of these Charities is far less attractive.

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  11. Very useful information. Could we get statistics on Red Cross (based in Canada) since they are a large charity on international aid?

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  12. One charity not shown here is SCAW ~ Sleeping Children Around the World. This is a Canadian run charity that distributes bed kits to children around the world. The is only one paid employee who maintains the office ~ former home of Dryden Family. The material for the bed kits & bed kits themselves are manufactured & assembled in Country where they are given out. All volunteers travel at their own expense ~ no paid CEO and very little if any adds or promotion, yet more than a million kits world wide have been distributed. An example of this is that in June of this year 6000 kits were given out in Uganda ~ Check it out $99.00+ of every $100.00 goes directly to the charity

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  13. Very interesting survey Sara. Would it be possible to receive a definition of the four criteria being measured: Charity efficiency; Fundraising efficiency; Governance and transparency; and Reserve fund size as well as an explanation as to the importance of each.
    regards,
    Rob

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  14. Why are most of the comments here negative? We should be happy that Money Sense has taken the time to step up and do this type of research. Whether or not it has all the answers isn't the point, it's purpose is to highlight charities and let us make our own informed decisions.

    Reply

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