Canadian National Institute for the Blind

1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4G 3E8
President & CEO: John M. Rafferty
Board Chair: Robert Penner

Charitable Reg. #:11921 9459 RR0003


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

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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) 46 cents are available for programs.

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About Canadian National Institute for the Blind:

Founded in 1918, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is a national charity that supports blind and partially sighted Canadians. It runs community-based programs and advocates for those affected by blindness so they can live the lives they choose. CNIB is headquartered in Toronto and has 50 local offices across all of Canada’s provinces, as well as Northwest Territories and Yukon. It reports that 1.5 million Canadians identify themselves as having a sight loss and 5.6 million have eye disease that could cause vision loss. The leading causes of blindness according to the charity are cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.  

CNIB conducted a Canada-wide survey on people affected by blindness to help guide its 2018-22 strategic plan. Its three strategic directions, which are based on key learning from the survey, focus on improving employment levels, increasing accessible technology, and reducing social stigmas related to blindness.  

CNIB breaks down program spending into seven areas. According to the charity 35% of program spending in F2019 relates to “Live” activities. 16% of spending goes to “Advocate”, 14% to “Learn”, 13% to “Tech”, 11% to “Play”, and 8% to “Work”. The final 2% of spending goes to “Other”.

In F2019, seven guide dogs graduated from the first training cohort, with another 50 currently in training across Canada. Also, CNIB sent its Eye Van to Northern Ontario to screen nearly 4,500 patients in 30 communities for eye conditions that could lead to blindness. To help youth living with sight loss and their families, CNIB organizes an annual camp on Lake Joseph in Muskoka. In F2019, 660 people attended, a 34% increase from F2017.

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Results and Impact

On June 21st 2019the Government of Canada passed Bill C-81 – the Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada, also called the Accessible Canada Act. This act enables the federal government and organizations with federal jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment services and information are accessible to everyone. CNIB states that this proactively eliminates and prevents barriers to opportunities for people living with disabilities. The charity was active in providing insights and advocating on behalf of blind Canadians while the bill was being built and reviewed.    

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CNIB is a Major 100 charity, meaning it is one of Canada’s largest charities in terms of donations. CNIB received $24.7m in donations in F2019. The charity also received $5.6m in government funding, $4.0m in net business activities, and $3.0m in net lottery revenue.

Administrative costs are 5% of revenues and fundraising costs are 49% of donations. For every dollar donated, 46 cents go to the cause. This is not within Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending. The charity holds $64.0m in funding reserves, of which $10.6m is donor-endowed. Excluding donor-endowed funds, the charity can cover 1.9 years of annual program costs.

Capital expenditures of ($53.5m) in F2018 are a result of $55.7m in proceeds from the disposal of capital assets.

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

Updated on August 21, 2020 by Tenzin Shomar.

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending March
Administrative costs as % of revenues 4.8%2.6%3.4%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 49.0%37.8%35.6%
Total overhead spending 53.8%40.4%39.0%
Program cost coverage (%) 185.7%105.7%8.6%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 24,71930,76726,859
Government funding 5,60831,93931,724
Fees for service 3471,0681,170
Lotteries (net) 2,9502,1032,177
Business activities (net) 3,9524,5423,855
Investment income 1,0802,9976,704
Other income 926926838
Total revenues 39,58274,34273,327
Program costs 29,25354,26752,264
Administrative costs 1,8651,8432,292
Fundraising costs 12,10911,6229,549
Other costs 2,2951,4211,721
Total spending 45,52269,15365,826
Cash flow from operations (5,940)5,1897,501
Capital spending 2,574(53,530)1,443
Funding reserves 63,96569,83117,042

Note: Ci reported endowment contributions in donations, increasing total revenue by $78k in F2019, $589k in F2018, and $301k in F2017. To report on a cash basis, Ci did not report amortization of deferred capital contributions and instead reported amounts received during the year in donations. This affected total revenue by ($1.4m) in F2019, ($1.0m) in F2018, and ($910k) in F2017. Ci also adjusted for deferred contributions, affecting revenues by ($3.1m) in F2019, $4.7m in F2018, $1.4m in F2017. Gain on sale of capital assets was not recognized in revenue, decreasing total revenue by $2.0m in F2019, $10.5m in F2018, and $86k in F2017. Ci reports retail lottery and gaming revenue net of expenses in lotteries, decreasing total revenue and expenses by $7.6m in F2019, $7.5m in F2018, and $7.7m in F2017. Rehabilitation and deaf-blind services expenses was reallocated to net business activities, reducing revenues and expenses by $38.5m in F2019. Amortization of capital assets was backed out of program, administrative and fundraising costs on a pro-rata basis.

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 853

Avg. Compensation: $35,194

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 F2019

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

[Charity Intelligence note: This profile has recently been updated. The comments that follow apply to an earlier version and may be revised.]

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.

To do that, our dedicated specialists work with people of all ages in their own homes, communities or local CNIB offices – providing the personalized rehabilitation support they need to see beyond vision loss, build their independence and lead the lives they want.

In addition to our community-based services, we also work hand-in-hand with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to advocate for a barrier-free society, and we strive to eliminate avoidable sight loss with world-class research and by promoting the importance of vision health through public education.

To make a donation or learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.

Charity Contact

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 1-800-265-4127