Top 10 Impact Charities 2019

2019 Top Impact Charities

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, some charities have low impact. Of the 203 Canadian charities that we’ve analysed, these Top 10 have the highest measurable impact. Our calculations estimate that these Top 10 Impact Charities deliver average returns of seven times on the dollar, compared with average returns of 1-2 times on the dollar.

The 2019 Top 10 Impact Charities cover frontline charities providing social services in Canada as well as international programs. Many of these programs bring evidence-based, life-saving interventions to developing countries, like clean water and vaccinations, which can produce high impact per dollar. Because of this, six of this year’s Top 10 Impact Charities work overseas in developing countries.

2019 Top 10 Impact Charities based on demonstrated impact per dollar donated (listed alphabetically): 

 Charity  Location  Sector  To Donate
 Against Malaria Foundation  Montreal, QC  International - Health   Donate
 Aunt Leah's Place  New Westminster, BC     Homeless - Youth  Donate
 Canadian Feed the Children - New       Toronto, ON  International - Development & Relief    Donate
 Canadian Foodgrains Bank  Winnipeg, MB  International Aid  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
 Lifewater Canada - New  Thunder Bay, ON  International - Water  Donate
 Operation Eyesight Universal  Calgary, AB  International - Health  Donate

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


We are also releasing 2 sub-sector lists, the Top 10 Canadian Impact Charities, charities with high-impact programs in Canada, and the Top 10 International Impact Charities, Canadian charities with high-impact programs operating overseas.


2019 Canadian Impact Charities


 Charity  Location  Sector  To Donate
 Aunt Leah's Place  New Westminster, BC     Homeless - Youth  Donate
 The Boundless School  Toronto, ON   Education - Youth  Donate
 Calgary Food Bank  Calgary, AB     Food Bank  Donate
 CUPS  Calgary, AB  Multi-Service  Donate
 East York Learning Experience        Toronto, ON  Education  Donate
 Eva's Initiatives  Toronto, ON  Homeless - Youth  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  Food Bank  Donate

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


 2019 International Impact Charities

 Charity  Location  Sector  To Donate
 Against Malaria Foundation Canada  Montreal, QC    International - Health  Donate
 Canadian Feed the Children - New  Toronto, ON  International - Development & Relief  Donate
 Canadian Foodgrains Bank      Winnipeg, MB  Internatinoal - Food Bank  Donate
 Doctors Without Borders  Toronto, ON  International - Health & Disaster  Donate
 Lifewater Canada - New  Thunder Bay, ON    International - Water  Donate
 Mennonite Central Committee Canada - New    Winnipeg, MB  International - Development & Disaster    Donate
 One Drop Foundation  Montreal, QC  International - Water  Donate
 Operation Eyesight Universal  Calgary, AB  International - Health  Donate
 Opportunity International Canada - New  Waterloo, ON  International - Microloans & Water  Donate
 War Child Canada - New  Toronto, ON  International - Education  Donate

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


All of these Top Impact Charities are a breed apart from the over 750 Canadian charities we report on and rate. Charity Intelligence’s star ratings are based on an assessment of 4 objective aspects: 1. donor reporting, 2. financial transparency, 3. funding need, and 4. cents to the cause. The best charities are listed using this approach in the 2019 100 Highest Rated report.

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

Rather than just heart-warming stories, impact donors feel good about proven results, data quality, and strong counterfactuals. Recently a charity asked, “wouldn’t you agree that making a child smile is priceless?” Our answer is “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 5 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 to account 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 are independent – charities do not pay for ratings or accreditation.

Charity Intelligence’s reports and ratings help Canadians give confidently. With greater confidence, people say they gave 32% more money. Last year, the Top 10 Impact Charities reported receiving $32.7 million in new funding, partially attributable to being recognized by Charity Intelligence.

Charity Intelligence’s impact analysis began in 2006 and is an ongoing research project that is generously funded by donors, particularly the DMPE Foundation. Our goal is to expand impact analysis to 400 Canadian charities by 2021.

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 work. Being 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.


Legal disclaimer:

The information in this report was prepared by Charity Intelligence Canada and its independent analysts from publicly available information. Charity Intelligence and its analysts have made endeavours to ensure that the data in this report is accurate and complete but accepts no liability.

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“Every investment is an impact investment. The problem is most people don’t know if their investment has positive or negative impact.”

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