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Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

5743 University Avenue, Suite 98
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
CEO: Brian Thompson
Board Chair: Allan Shaw

Charitable Reg. #: 11922 9318 RR0001
Sector: Health
Public Foundation

Results Reporting

Grade: B-

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

Financial Transparency

Audited financial statements for current and previous years available on the charity's website [Audited financial statement for most recent year]

Need for Funding

Funding Reserves Program Costs

Spending Breakdown

Cents to the Cause

2015 2016 2017
For a dollar donated, cents funding the cause after fundraising and admin costs, excluding surplus.

Full-time staff #5

Avg. Compensation $105,617

Top 10 Staff Salary Range

$350k + 0
$300k - $350k 0
$250k - $300k 0
$200k - $250k 0
$160k - $200k 0
$120k - $160k 1
$80k - $120k 2
$40k - $80k 2
< $40k 0
Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2017

About Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation:

Founded in 1979, Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) funds medical research at the Dalhousie University Medical School and its related research facilities across the Maritimes. DMRF funds research in four key areas: cancer, cardiology, neuroscience and mental health, and inflammation, inflection and immunity. The foundation’s office is in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

DMRF spent $1.5m on research grants (54% of total grants) in F2017. In addition, the foundation granted $837k (30% of total grants) to the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI) which is also based in Halifax. DMRF states that it directs all funding for cancer research to the BHCRI. On the BHCRI’s website, it states that “the institute provides a meeting place for researchers to share ideas and forge new collaborations at universities, hospitals and research institutes across Atlantic Canada and beyond.” Additionally, in 2018 Dalhousie researchers were awarded a total of 11 grants, representing a combined value of $7.7 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

DMRF provides grants to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to encourage medical students to pursue research-oriented careers. In F2017, DMRF granted $220k (8% of total grants) to students in the Research in Medicine (RIM) Program at Dalhousie University. Each undergraduate student is provided with $5,000 to complete independent research projects. DMRF also granted $40k to graduate students (1% of total grants) and $54k in other prizes and awards (2%) in F2017.

DMRF also distributes equipment grants to Dalhousie medical researchers to set up and equip their laboratories. In F2017, DMRF provided $128k (5% of total grants) in equipment grants. The foundation has not provided a breakdown of its studentship, fellowship or equipment grant recipients since F2015.

Results and Impact: In Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s 2017 fall magazine, it reports that Dalhousie researchers have led the discovery and development of a variety of cancer-fighting viruses. Termed “oncolytic viruses”, these viruses can be used to selectively kill cancer cells and teach the immune system to mount an anti-cancer fight. With the support of DMRF, Dalhousie’s International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) team received a bronze medal for their research in harnessing microbial genes to improve the human planet in 2017.

Financial Review:

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation is a medium-sized charity with donations of $3.5m in F2017, a 21% decrease compared to F2016. Investment income, mostly relating to the foundation’s endowment fund, totalled $10.4m in F2017. This accounts for 75% of DMRF’s F2017 total revenue and represents an annual return on investment of 14%. DMRF reports an unrealized loss on its investments of $7.2m in F2016 which led to a significantly lower total revenue. As of F2017, the foundation holds $84.6m in investments, of which 79% are stocks.

Administration costs are 15% of total revenues and fundraising costs are 24% of donations. For every dollar donated to the foundation, $0.61 goes towards its grants, which falls outside Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending. DMRF has total funding reserves of $85.1m, which include $77.2m (91%) of donor-endowed funds. Assuming a 5% annual return on DMRF’s endowment fund, annual granting activities can be covered indefinitely.

This charity report is an update that has been sent to Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation for review. Changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Updated on August 3, 2018 by Derek Houlberg.

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending March
Administrative costs as % of revenues 14.8%11.4%9.0%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 24.0%16.5%15.1%
Program cost coverage (%) 3,073.0%2,440.6%2,616.7%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 3,4644,4084,279
Government funding 0025
Investment income 10,359(2,035)7,337
Total revenues 13,8242,37411,641
Grants 2,7683,0752,940
Administrative costs 512502385
Fundraising costs 832728644
Cash flow from operations 9,711(1,932)7,671
Funding reserves 85,06775,05376,936
Note: Ci has backed out government funding of $25k in F2015, gathered from the charity’s T3010 CRA filings, from donations. Ci has backed out amortization from administrative and fundraising costs on a pro-rated basis.

Comments added by the Charity:

The following comments were added to a previous profile:

  • PEER-REVIEW - All research grants provided by DMRF must first go through a peer-review process and are not awarded unless a minimum standard of excellence is exhibited.


  • FUNDRAISING COSTS PERCENTAGE - DMRF regularly receives gifts of shares from donors.  Shares transferred directly to a charitable organization offer excellent tax advantages to Canadian donors.  Charity Intelligence has chosen to list share transfers on the “Goods in Kind” line in its 3 year Summary of Financial Statements and does not include these monies in its fundraising cost calculation.  DMRF disagrees with this process and considers the gift of shares to be just as much a result of fundraising efforts as is the receipt of a donation of cash.

Including the “Goods in Kind” line (i.e. donations of shares) in the “Donations” line under Summary of Financial Statements, would then reduce the DMRF fundraising costs as % of donations to be: 15% for 2012,   6.7% for 2011 and   6.5% for 2010.

Estate bequests are a large portion of the Foundation’s donations and these gifts can come quite unexpectedly and vary greatly from year to year.  Therefore to smooth out these unpredictable ups and downs, DMRF normally looks at a three-year rolling average fundraising cost %.  Using such a rolling average formula, the latest DMRF fundraising cost as a % of donations would be 9.4%.

  • ENDOWMENTS – As of June 2013, the Foundation had an endowment portfolio value of $60 million which is overseen by a DMRF Board Investment Committee and managed professionally by external investment expertise. It is incredibly important to the DMRF Board that as much funding as possible goes to support medical research.  Administrative and fundraising expenses at DMRF are covered by a portion of investment income while 5% of endowed income goes directly to support research grants and awards at Dalhousie University Medical School and its affiliated health institutions.


  • IMPACT – The autumn Philanthropist newsletter of DMRF lists all research grants awarded in the previous fiscal year.  Philanthropist copies can be requested from the Foundation or found on the DMRF website (  In addition, DMRF is currently in the process of establishing an on-going process to identify the impacts of donor support on advances in medical research.  The autumn 2013 Philanthropist newsletter will be devoted to the topic of “impact”.
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