Top 10 Impact Charities of 2018

A growing niche of donors each year is looking for terrific charities to support, particularly those that have measurable, proven, and high impact.

“Impact” and “investing” are buzzwords often bantered around by charities. Many charities have marketing slogans saying they “make a difference”. Charity Intelligence’s rigorous analysis measures this “difference” - the impact - that charities make.

Like all investments, returns vary considerably. Some charities have high impact returns, some charities have low impact returns. Of the 125 Canadian charities that we’ve analysed, these Top 10 have the highest measurable impact. Our calculations estimate that these Top 10 Impact Charities deliver returns of six times on the dollar, compared with average returns of 1-2 times on the dollar.

The 2018 Top 10 Impact Charities cover front-line charities providing social services in Canada as well as international programs. Bringing evidence-based, life-saving interventions to developing countries, like clean water and vaccinations, can have high impact per dollar. As such, five of this year’s Top 10 Impact Charities work overseas. 


2018 Top 10 Impact Charities based on impact per dollar donated: 

Charity Location Sector To Donate
Against Malaria FoundationNew Montreal, QC International - Health  Donate
Aunt Leah's Place New Westminster, BC   Homeless - Youth Donate
Canadian Foodgrains BankNew Winnipeg, MB International Aid Donate
CUPS Calgary, AB Multi-Service Donate
Doctors Without Borders Toronto, ON International Aid Donate
East York Learning Experience Toronto, ON Education Donate
Fresh Start Recovery Calgary, AB Addiction Recovery Donate
JUMP Math Toronto, ON National - Education Donate
One Drop FoundationNew Montreal, QC International - Water Donate
Operation Eyesight UniversalNew Calgary, AB International - Health Donate


For more information on these charities, please view our Top 10 Impact Charities Summary.


2018 Canadian Impact Charities


NEW this year is the Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities, charities with high impact programs in Canada.

Charity Location Sector To Donate
Aunt Leah's Place New Westminster, BC   Homeless - Youth Donate
CUPS Calgary, AB Multi-Service Donate
East York Learning Experience     Toronto, ON Education Donate
Eva's Initiatives Toronto, ON Homeless - Youth Donate
Food Banks CanadaNew Mississauga, ON National - Food Aid Donate
Food for Life Burlington, ON Foodbank Donate
Fresh Start Recovery Calgary, AB Addiction Recovery Donate
Indspire Ohsweken, ON National - Education (Indigenous) Donate
JUMP Math Toronto, ON National - Education Donate
Moisson Montreal Montreal, QC Foodbank Donate


For more information on these charities, please view our Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities Summary.


All of these Top Impact Charities are a breed apart from the 760 Canadian charities we report on and rate. Charity Intelligence’s star ratings are based on a holistic approach, assessing four objective aspects: 1. donor reporting, 2. financial transparency, 3. funding need, and 4. cents to the cause (overhead fundraising and admin costs). The best charities are listed in the 2018 100 Highest Rated report.

The impact rating is different and looks at only one aspect: for every dollar you donate, what’s the measurable return?

Rather than only heart-warming stories, impact donors feel good about proven results, data quality, and strong counterfactuals. Recently a charity asked “wouldn’t you agree that saving a child’s life is priceless?” No. Impact donors always consider opportunity costs. Impact donors are pragmatic. 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 returns – the biggest bang for the buck.

Some call Charity Intelligence a “charity watchdog”. We see ourselves as research analysts who help Canadian donors give better. Yes, we hold charities accountable 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 and ratings help Canadians give confidently. With greater confidence, people say they gave 32% more money. The Top 10 Impact Charities report receiving $32.7 million in new funding last year, partially attributable to being recognized by Charity Intelligence.

Charity Intelligence’s reports are independent – these charities do not pay for ratings or accreditation. Charity Intelligence’s impact analysis began in 2006 and is an ongoing annual $275,000 research project that is generously funded by donors, particularly the Colvin Family Foundation. Our goal is to expand impact analysis to 400 Canadian charities by 2020.

For more information on our impact assessment please view our Social Impact Ratings Methodology or contact Greg Thomson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 416-363-1555.

If you find Charity Intelligence’s research useful in your giving, please consider donating to support our workBeing entirely funded by donors like you maintains our independence and objectivity to help Canadians be informed in their giving. Canadians donate over $17 billion each year. This giving could achieve tremendous results. We hope Charity Intelligence's research helps Canadians give better.

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