TORONTO, ON–Charity Intelligence released its 2023 Top 10 Impact Charities to help Canadian donors find charities making the greatest impact.

Most charities claim that they “make a difference” in the lives of those they work with, but it is very difficult for donors to tell how much of a difference any given charity is making, according to Charity Intelligence. The company’s rigorous analysis measures this difference, or the impact, charities actually make to see how each dollar we give can create the most positive change.

Over $18 billion was given to charities by Canadian donors last year and a significant portion of that is going to less effective charities. Donors often focus on the reputation of the charity or they get distracted by salaries or administrative costs when what really matters is understanding the impact charities have.

“Some charities create a lot of change with the donations given to them. Others have almost nothing to show for the money coming from donors” says Greg Thomson, Director of Research at Charity Intelligence. “Of the 300 Canadian charities we have analysed for impact, these Top 10 have the highest measurable demonstrated impact. Our calculations estimate this group of Top 10 Impact Charities delivers average returns of roughly 6 dollars for every dollar donated, compared with overall average charity returns of only about 1.5 dollars.”

The 2023 Top 10 Impact Charities cover frontline charities providing social services in Canada, such as food, education, and addiction recovery, as well as international programs bringing evidence-based programs to developing countries, like clean water, health and education programs. All of these charities produce high impact per dollar with their programs.

2023 Top 10 Impact Charities

Charity Location Sector
Against Malaria Foundation Canada Montreal, QC International – Health
Cambridge Food Bank Cambridge, ON Food Bank
Canadian Foodgrains Bank Winnipeg, MB International – Food
The Citizens Foundation Oakville, ON International – Education
Edmonton’s Food Bank Edmonton, AB Food Bank
First Book Canada Mississauga, ON Youth – Education
Fresh Start Recovery Centre Calgary, AB Addiction Recovery
Indspire Ohsweken, ON First Nations – Education
Lifewater Canada Thunder Bay, ON International – Water
Operation Eyesight Universal Calgary, AB International – Health

More information on the Top 10 Impact Charities is available on the company’s website.

To meet Canadian donors’ growing demand for impact charities, they also released 6 additional lists of charities with top impact:

▪ Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities, charities with high-impact programs in Canada

▪ Top 10 International Impact Charities, Canadian charities with high-impact programs operating overseas

▪ Top 10 Impact: Canadian Food Banks, Canadian food banks creating high impact

▪ Top 10 Impact: Canadian Youth Charities, charities creating high-impact results for youth in Canada

▪ Top 5 Impact: Calgary Charities

▪ Top 5 Impact: Toronto Charities

These Top Impact Charities are a breed apart from the over 850 Canadian charities they report on and rate. Charity Intelligence’s overall star ratings are based on an assessment of 5 objective aspects: 1. donor reporting, 2. financial transparency, 3. funding need, 4. cents to the cause, and 5. demonstrated impact. The 5-Star rated charities based on these metrics are listed in the 2023 100.

Highest Rated Charities report.
The demonstrated impact rating is different and looks at only one aspect: for every dollar you donate, what’s the measurable return to clients and society?

Thompson points out that rather than just heart-warming stories, impact donors feel good about proven results. Recently a charity asked, “wouldn’t you agree that making a child smile is priceless?” Our answer is “no”. Impact donors always consider opportunity costs. Money is a scarce resource. If comparing two charities where one charity saves lives for $100,000 each and a second charity saves lives for $20,000 each, impact donors will support the second charity that creates 5 times the impact per dollar. Five lives saved compared with one life saved for the same donation. Impact donors give for the highest change created from their donations.

Some call Charity Intelligence a “charity watchdog”. Thompson says they see themselves as research analysts who help Canadian donors give better. “Yes, we hold charities to account for the generous support they receive from Canadian donors and expect them to be financially transparent, and yes, we call out exorbitant overhead costs or charities that don’t need more funding. Similarly, each giving season we also call out the best impact charities we’ve found. Charity Intelligence’s reports are independent and objective – charities do not pay for ratings or listing on our website.”

About Charity Intelligence: Charity Intelligence researches Canadian charities for donors. Charity Intelligence’s reports and ratings help Canadians give confidently. With greater confidence, people say they gave 32 percent more money. Charity Intelligence reviews and rates over 850 Canadian charities and provides in-depth reports on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer research, and homelessness. Currently, over 400,000 users come to Charity Intelligence’s website ( annually as a go-to trusted source for information on Canadian charities. Through rigorous and independent research, Charity Intelligence helps donors be informed and give intelligently. Charity Intelligence aims to assist Canada’s dynamic sector to be more transparent, accountable, and focused on results.

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