Canada’s Major 100 Charities: An Independent Guide

To find information on one of Canada's Major 100 Charities (listed below), enter its name into the search box on the right.


Canadian charities are amazing in their numbers and what they add to society. They work in different sectors to provide many services and programs. Canada’s dynamic charity sector is the envy of much of the world.

Canadian charities come in all sizes - some are big and others are small, few are rich and many are poor.  There are only a small percent of the 85,600 charities that are ‘big’ charities. Within these charities, there is set of majors – Canada’s largest 100 charities. According to Ci’s findings, the Major 100 Charities receive a significant amount of the money donated by Canadians. Canada’s 100 Major Charities received a total of $4.5 billion in donations from Canadians in 2009.  While this is not directly comparable to the tax-receipted donation figures released by the Canada Revenue Agency, Ci estimates that the Major 100 Charities received 37% of the $9.7 billion in total tax-receipted donations made by all Canadian individuals and corporations.

The Major 100 also account for a vast amount of the fundraising spending in the charitable sector. Small in number, they often shape how Canadians view charities - a result of their mailings, posters and press stories.

It is these Major 100 Charities that have been the focus of Ci’s work. Canada’s 100 Major Charities are selected by their sheer size, the Major 100 Charities that receive the largest amount of donations from Canadian donors. Each easy-to-read charity report answers the most frequently-asked questions donors have about Canada’s largest “household” name charities; how a dollar donated is spent, the charity’s wealth, the charity’s openness in disclosing information and also basic information about charity staff and salaries.

The purpose of these reports is to help donors better understand the facts on the Major 100 Charities and to answer the most common questions donors have. To provide in one place, public information collected from the charity’s annual report, website, audited financial statements and regulatory filings. For the first time in Canada, donors’ have access to the “gold standard” of disclosure and accountability; the charities audited financial statements, rather than government filings. We believe Canadian donors deserve nothing less.  Rather than having to search many places, this information has been condensed and brought together in one place.

Some donors may use these reports to choose charities to give their time or money to. Our aim is simply to provide donors with information to become informed. We do not attempt to choose which charity to give to. Indeed, the diversity of Canada’s charitable sector is its strength, and this depends upon the diversity of opinion among donors themselves about what charities they choose to support.

The charity reports provide facts; facts without judgement. We present information on salaries, administrative costs and fundraising costs – simply as the facts of a charity. One reader may use this information because they wish to support a charity with a high salary structure, comparable to ones in the for-profit sector, offering the promise of strong and effective management; another reader may feel the opposite. Are fundraising costs high, thus maximizing money for a cause or low therefore perhaps limiting the capacity of the charity to do good?

Each donor may put a different weight on these facts. And each donor may or may not use these numbers in their personal giving decisions. Giving is a personal matter, and each donor has unique interests. Our simple aim is to provide the facts to donors to help them make their own choices, not to make the choices for them.

A Charity’s Cost Efficiency: Fundraising & Administrative Costs

Sector experts reject fundraising and administrative costs as meaningful numbers to make giving choices. We see this controversial issue from a different angle. Since 2002, the Muttart Foundation has surveyed Canadian donors about their thoughts of charities in Canada. Donors are confident in Canadian charities and value the people who work in the charity space. Yet, Canadian donors have doubts for these charities. Donors want greater transparency on how charities spend their money. They ask the most questions about how much money charities spend on fundraising and administrative costs. Questions like these are often easy to answer, mainly for financial analysts. With use of the charities audited financial reports we hope the charity profiles can simply answer these questions in a fair and reliable way.

Donor’s questions and focus on these numbers might seem unfitting to charities and sector experts. Donors deserve greater transparency in how the money they donate to charity is spent. We think the questions donors have about charities are acceptable. After all, it is donor’s money. Wouldn’t answers to their questions raise their trust in charities and boost their support for Canada’s charitable sector? Our hope is that the information on fundraising and admin in the charity reports will do just this.



Canadian charities add to the fabric of our society and run vital services to make Canada the great country it is. Canada’s Major 100 charities have big public profiles that often slant how donors’ view our entire charity sector. As the prime recipients of donors’ dollars, we hold the Major 100 charities to the highest standards of financial transparency.

Many charities have great financial transparency, but we are surprised at how many don’t offer access to such basic public records. Nearly 20% of the Major 100 charities don’t provide the public with access to their full and complete audited financial statements.

Canadian charities must submit their financial statements to the Canada Revenue Agency with their tax filings. For a small, grassroots charity, led mostly by volunteers, it could be a big cost to have audited financial statements, run a website and post this information for public access. For the Major 100 charities, each charity has a website. Would it be too much trouble or cost to post these statements on the charity’s website? We think not.

We are thankful to the devoted staff at the Canada Revenue Agency who provided us with these audited financial reports upon our request for them. These are open to any Canadian who makes a formal ask to the CRA for the reports - a tiring job tying up CRA staff time from the vital regulation of Canada’s charity sector.

We hope donors that are aware of this lack of disclosure, will ask the charities they give to and support to offer these reports on their websites. These requests will most likely be better and much cheaper at boosting the financial openness of Canada’s charity sector, than through passing laws on disclosure.


Call For Donors

Our website is in its infancy. The initial charity profiles are on Canada’s 100 big charities, gauged by the size of the donations they take in each year. As stated, this is just a tiny group of Canada’s charities. Are these the charities you have questions about? Is there another charity you would like us to produce a profile on?

To ensure that our work meets the needs of Canadian donors we are throwing open our research doors. If you don’t find the charity you want information on, please submit a request. The Ci team of volunteers are on standby to prepare profiles on the charities donors ask for. Our three year goal is to post 1,000 charity reports on our website so they are free for all donors.

To ‘vote’ for your charity of choice, please enter the charity name in the charity search box on the website. There is a link to request a charity for review if your favourite charity is not found. As a small team and a charity ourselves, we will only have some much time. To be fair, we will start with the charity that has the most votes and work our way down the list. Stay tuned…


Canada's Major 100 Charities

Aga Khan Foundation Canada

Alberta Cancer Foundation

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

Art Gallery of Ontario

Baycrest Centre Foundation

BC Cancer Foundation

British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

British Columbia's Children's Hospital Foundation

Calgary Food Bank

Calgary Foundation

Calgary Health Trust

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

Canadian Cancer Society Alberta/N.W.T. Division

Canadian Cancer Society British Columbia and Yukon Division

Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division

Canadian Cancer Society Quebec Division

Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Canadian Diabetes Association

Canadian Feed the Children

Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Canadian Red Cross Society

Canadian Wildlife Federation Inc.

Cancer Research Society

Centre for International Governance Innovation

Chalice Canada

Children's Wish Foundation of Canada

Christian Children's Fund of Canada

Compassion Canada

Covenant House Toronto

Crossroads Christian Communications

Doctors Without Borders Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Federation CJA

Free the Children

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT, and Nunavut

Heart and Stroke Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

Help Eliminate Disease and Addiction Canada (CHARITABLE STATUS REVOKED 5/4/12)

Hope International Development Agency

Jewish General Hospital Foundation

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada

Kidney Foundation of Canada

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada

London Health Sciences Foundation

Malvern Rouge Valley Youth Services (CHARITABLE STATUS REVOKED 11/11/11)

McGill University

McMaster University

Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation

Montreal General Hospital Foundation

Montréal Heart Institute Foundation

Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation of Toronto

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Mustard Seed

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Ottawa Hospital Foundation

Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada

Plan International Canada

Power to Change Ministries

Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation

Queen's University

Rom Foundation

Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters for Canada and Bermuda

Samaritan's Purse Canada

Second Harvest

SickKids Foundation

St Michael's Hospital Foundation

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation

Terry Fox Foundation

Tides Canada Foundation

Tim Horton Childrens Foundation

Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation

Unicef Canada

United Israel Appeal of Canada

United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto

United Jewish Welfare Fund of Toronto

United Way Calgary and Area

United Way Montreal

United Way of the Alberta Capital Region

United Way of the Lower Mainland

United Way Ottawa

United Way Toronto

United Way Winnipeg

University of Alberta

University of British Columbia

University of Calgary

University of Guelph

University of Manitoba

University of Ottawa

University of Saskatchewan

University of Toronto

University of Western Ontario

Vaad Mishmeres Mitzvos - Committee to Observe the Torah Laws

Vancouver Foundation

VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation

War Amputations of Canada

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Canada

World Vision Canada

World Wildlife Fund Canada

Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada

York University Foundation

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