Charity Intelligence’s 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. Charity Intelligence’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 to understand 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 10 have the highest measurable demonstrated impact. Our calculations estimate this group of Top 10 Impact Charities delivers average returns of almost 7 dollars for every dollar donated, compared with overall average charity returns of only 1-2 dollars.”

The 2022 Top 10 Impact Charities cover frontline charities providing social services in Canada as well as international programs. Many of these charities bring evidence-based programs to developing countries, like clean water and education, which can produce high impact per dollar. Because of this, six of this year’s Top 10 Impact Charities work overseas in developing countries.

To meet Canadian donors’ growing demand for impact charities, Ci 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 800 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 2022 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?

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?” CI’s 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 five 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”. They see themselves as research analysts who help Canadian donors give better. They hold charities to account for the generous support they receive from Canadian donors and expect them to be financially transparent, and they 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 their 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 800 Canadian charities and provides in-depth reports on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer research, and homelessness.

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