Charity Intelligence believes that the key question donors should ask of a charity is how much impact it is having per dollar of donation. Rather than asking “For every dollar I give, what percent is going to the cause?” we should ask, “for every dollar I give, how many dollars’ worth of social value are being created?”, or simply, “how much good is my donation doing?”

This impact can be measured directly using what is known as Social Return on Investment (SROI), which is a ratio that measures the amount of value created per dollar donated. Some charities create high impact per dollar and others do not.

Charity Intelligence has chosen the following Top 10 Impact Charities of 2017 based on impact per dollar donated: 

Aunt Leah's Place

Calgary Urban Project Society

Doctors Without Borders

Eva's Initiatives

Food for Life

Fort York Food Bank

Fresh Start Recovery Centre



Moisson Montréal


Charity Intelligence has picked the most effective Canadian charities that combat issues such as hunger, homelessness, health, and improving education. Giving for impact means looking beyond administrative and fundraising costs to see what difference a charity is making in the lives of its clients. For your dollar, evidence shows that these charities are creating the most positive change we have seen.

If you donate $100 to a charity and they create $200 worth of social value, that is a good investment.  If the charity can create $300 worth of value, that is even better. These 10 high-impact charities are likely to produce an average of over $600 in value from a $100 gift!

Impact Charities

To do this work, Ci has teamed up with Success Markets Inc. (SMI), a U.S.-based charity that was developed for the sole purpose of taking the guesswork out of charitable giving.  Together, we measure the impact of each dollar donated to help donors see how they can deliver the most good for the same level of giving.

The Top 10 Impact Charities range in annual donations from $164,000 to $55.8 million, showing that charities of any size can provide impact. The list contains two charities that operate nationally, one operating internationally, and seven local charities from across four provinces, operating in seven different social service and education sectors. Last year, donors to our list of high-impact charities created an additional $100 million of social value in Canada simply by shifting the way they donate.

The social value created by these charities comes from both benefits provided to the charities’ beneficiaries, such as increased income, improved graduation rates, and improved health, as well as benefits to society in general, such as reduced social costs and increased tax revenue.

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.

Charity Star Ratings

View ratings on the charities in our database. You can see a list of all 4-Star Charities, or to access all charity ratings become a Subscriber.

Donate to Ci

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Your gift makes possible Ci's ongoing work to make Canada's dynamic charitable sector more transparent, accountable and focused on results. Informed and intelligent donors make Canadian philanthropy stonger. Thank you!
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