10 Francis Street East
Creemore, ON L0M 1G0
Executive Director: John Millar
Director: Ami Gopal

Charitable Reg. #:83852 5269 RR0001


Ci's Star Rating is calculated based on the following independent metrics:

[Charity Rating: 5/5]



Audited financial statements for current and previous years available on the charity’s website.



Grade based on the charity's public reporting of the work it does and the results it achieves.



The demonstrated impact per dollar Ci calculates from available program information.


Charity's cash and investments (funding reserves) relative to how much it spends on programs in most recent year.



For a dollar donated, after overhead costs of fundraising and admin/management (excluding surplus) 89 cents are available for programs.

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About Water First :

Water First is a 5-star charity. It has an above-average results reporting score, low overhead spending, and is financially transparent. 

Founded in 2009, Water First Education and Training Inc. works alongside Indigenous communities to address local water challenges. Currently, 14% of Indigenous communities in Canada are affected by drinking water advisories. Water First has worked with over 80 communities across six provinces and territories. The charity focuses on building trust, forming meaningful partnerships, and creating lasting results. 

A Charity Intelligence 2023 Top 100 Rated Charity

Water First runs three programs: Drinking Water, Environmental Water, and Indigenous Schools. 

In F2022, Water First’s Drinking Water program received 53% of program funds. The Drinking Water Internship Program helps Indigenous young adults become certified water treatment plant operators. This allows local people to help their communities address water challenges. In F2022, this internship provided 30,985 training hours to 41 participants. Additionally, 11 people graduated from the program. 

For F2022, the Environmental Water program represented 30% of program costs. Water First works with Indigenous partners to improve technical skills in water science topics. In F2022, this program provided 1,147 training hours to 47 participants. Water First ran 11 projects, covering topics such as fish habitat restoration, water quality management, and climate change monitoring. 

Water First’s Indigenous Schools program made up 16% of spending in F2022. Water First runs STEM-focused programming for K-12 Indigenous students to explore water science concepts and build relationships with the environment. Students visited local water bodies and wastewater treatment plants. They also learned about their roles in protecting water resources. For F2022, Water First delivered 27 programs that reached 1,220 students.

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Results and Impact

In F2022, 11 Drinking Water interns became certified operators. Another seven participants became Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) certified. These individuals were from both the Drinking and Environmental Water programs. Water First’s Indigenous Schools program helped 49 students earn their high school geography credits over the summer in F2022. 

While Charity Intelligence highlights these key results, they may not be a complete representation of Water First’s results and impact. 

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Water First Education and Training Inc. received $4.9m in donations in F2022, almost double the $2.5m received in F2021. Of this amount, $1.1m came from corporate donors, which is four times the $285k received from such donors in F2021. The charity also received $329k in fee for service revenue in F2022. Administrative costs are 6% of revenues and fundraising costs are 5% of donations. Water First spends 11% on overhead. This means that for every dollar donated, 89 cents go towards the charity’s programs. This is inside Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending. Water First has $4.1m in reserve funding and the reserves can cover around 16 months of program costs.

This charity report is an update that was sent for review to Water First Education Training Inc. Changes and edits may be forthcoming. 

Updated on August 19, 2023 by Clive Stevens. 

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending August
Administrative costs as % of revenues 5.5%5.6%3.8%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 5.3%5.0%16.1%
Total overhead spending 10.8%10.6%19.9%
Program cost coverage (%) 132.9%180.6%57.3%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 4,9372,543644
Government funding 478371315
Fees for service 329580367
Total revenues 5,7443,4941,326
Program costs 3,0771,381984
Administrative costs 31619750
Fundraising costs 261127104
Total spending 3,6541,7041,138
Cash flow from operations 2,0911,789188
Capital spending 000
Funding reserves 4,0912,494564

Note: To report on a cash basis, Ci adjusted donations by changes in deferred revenue from non-government sources. This affected revenues by $769k in F2022, $486k in F2021, and ($23k) in F2020. Ci adjusted donations by changes in deferred revenue from government sources as well. This affected revenues by ($46k) in F2022, $128k in F2021, and ($41k) in F2020. Ci also adjusted donations by deferred fees for service. This affected revenues by ($278k) in F2022, $97k in F2021, and $131k in F2020. Ci reports amortization of capital assets in non-cash expenses, thus it is not included in our analysis. This affects total expenses by $55k in F2022, $41k in F2021, and $28k in F2020.  In the F2022 financial statements, certain values were restated from the numbers included in the F2021 statements. Ci has restated these values accordingly. 

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 26

Avg. compensation: $59,892

Top 10 staff salary range:

$350k +
$300k - $350k
$250k - $300k
$200k - $250k
$160k - $200k
$120k - $160k
$80k - $120k
$40k - $80k
< $40k

Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2022

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

This comment was provided on August 17, 2023:

The water crisis facing Indigenous communities is one of the most fundamental challenges in Canada today. Founded in 2009, Water First Education & Training Inc. partners with Indigenous communities to help resolve local water challenges through education, training, and meaningful collaboration. Water First offers training and education in three key program areas: drinking water training and certification internships, project-based environmental water technical training, and STEM-based water science workshops in schools.

Our approach to program design and delivery sets us apart. We listen and work alongside Indigenous partners to learn about long-term environmental water goals and local training needs. Each program is then adapted based on these local, community-identified needs. Our work is guided by meaningful relationships and engagement with Indigenous communities, and decisions are made alongside an Indigenous Advisory Council and community members.

At Water First, training and hiring locally is fundamental to our programs, and is how we create meaningful impact with the communities and people we serve. Programming takes place in the community, so participants don’t have to leave to access training opportunities. Participants can build technical skills while maintaining their connections to the community, the land, and the water.

We know our work alone won’t solve the water crisis. It’s a complex problem that needs collaborative, integrated solutions. And that work will take time. That’s why Water First strives to build enduring relationships for lasting results, with skills and benefits remaining within Indigenous communities so they can access clean drinking water–now and into the future.


Charity Contact

Website: www.waterfirst.ngo
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 1 (800) 970-8467


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Charitable Registration Number: 80340 7956 RR0001