Facts Revealed: New Research on Canada's Major 100 Charities

Charity Intelligence provides Canadians with the answers they've asked for

TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2011 /CNW/ - Charity Intelligence Canada today launches an independent online service for donors with research reports on Canada's Major 100 Charities. Each easy-to-read charity report answers the most frequently-asked questions donors have about Canada's largest "household" name charities; how a dollar donated is spent, the charity's wealth, the charity's openness in disclosing information and also basic information about charity staff and salaries. Canada's Major 100 Charities are selected by their sheer size, the 100 charities that receive the largest amount of donations from Canadian donors.

Canadian donors are increasingly asking questions about their giving and seek information to make better giving decisions. Since its beginning in 2006, thousands of donors have called on Charity Intelligence asking for information about the charity they support. The service is free and accessible - anyone can use this charity search engine at Charity Intelligence's website www.charityintelligence.ca.

"We recognize that each donor is unique, with personal passions and interests and that they should be confident and empowered to make giving decisions," says Kate Bahen, Managing Director of Charity Intelligence. "Our goal is simply to help donors by providing the facts and figures to help them make better-informed giving decisions."

When putting together this report, Ci uncovered a number of key findings. Highlights from these include:

  • Lack of Transparency in 19 of Canada's Major 100 Charities. There is a startling lack of disclosure in Canada's vital charitable sector. Of Canada's Major 100 charities, 19 do not publically disclose audited financials, nor would they disclose this financial information when requested, forcing an official request for information from Canada Revenue Agency. These 19 "closed" charities received $800 million in donations in the most recent year.

  • Canada's Major 100 Charities Receive 37 per cent of Total Canadian Donor Support. According to Ci's findings, Canada's Major 100 charities received a total of $4.5 billion in donations from Canadians in 2009.  Ci estimates that the Major 100 received 37% of total individual and corporate tax-receipted donations. In other words, the Major 100 charities represent 0.12% of the 85,630 registered charities in Canada and receive more than 1/3 of total annual donations by Canadians.

  • 14 of Canada's Major 100 Charities exceed CRA fundraising guidelines. In 2010, the CRA increased its fundraising allowance from 20% to 35%, yet 14 of the Major 100 Charities exceed the 35% level.

  • Canada has "rich" charities and "poor" charities. Some charities fundraise because they can, not because they can't meet an unforeseeable need. Some charities can run their programs for years without raising another dollar. 25 of Canada's Major 100 charities have enough cash and investments on hand to cover three or more years of their annual program costs. From a donor's perspective, this means that donations will likely be invested, rather than used for charity work in the next year. On the other hand, "poor" charities would grind to a halt without annual donations. Donors who give annually may wish to pick charities that need money for next year's programs.

  • Charity Salaries. Executive compensation is a hot-button issue. Some donors prefer to give to professionally-run charities that may offer the promise of good management and greater results. Other donors feel very strongly otherwise.

"In some respects Charity Intelligence's online search engine is similar to the hugely popular US-based Charity Navigator", says Greg Thomson, Ci Director of Research. "Yet we believe this analysis is ground-breaking. We've used the "gold-standard" of disclosure and accountability, the charity's audited financial statements, rather than government filings. We believe Canadian donors deserve nothing less."

This is only the beginning. Canada's Major 100 Charities are now posted on Charity Intelligence's new website www.charityintelligence.ca . If donors do not find the charity they want information on, Ci asks them to submit a request. The 3-year goal is to have 1,000 charity reports posted and available for all Canadians.

About Charity Intelligence Canada

Charity Intelligence Canada (Ci) is a Canadian charity that seeks to help Canadians be empowered donors. Ci provides evidence-based research and standardized analysis on Canadian charities to help donors make intelligent, more strategic giving decisions. Ci helps donors to be social investors. Charity Intelligence's research is independent and solely-funded by donors.

For further information:

For more information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Martha Grant at 416-302-4957 mgrant@charityintelligence.ca

For media in Alberta, please contact Joni Avram at 403.617.5496/joni@causeeffect.ca