Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation

5743 University Avenue, Suite 98
Halifax, NS B3H 4R2
CEO: Brian Thompson
Board Chair: Allan Shaw

Charitable Reg. #:11922 9318 RR0001


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

[Charity Rating: 1/5]


Audited financial statements available only through official request for information from Charities Directorate.



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) 45 cents are available for programs.

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About Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation:

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) was founded in 1979 by community leaders who believed the Maritimes could and should be a leader in medical research. DMRF funds medical research at Dalhousie University Medical School and its related research facilities across the Maritimes. Dalhousie Medical School focuses its research on four key areas: cancer, cardiology, neuroscience, and inflammation, infection and immunity. DMRF has recently expanded into Ontario and aspires to attract board members from across Canada. DMRF highlights large historic projects it helped to fund: $2.1m into the Life Sciences Research Institute, $1.1m into Dalhousie’s Retina and Optic Nerve Lab, and $100,000 into the Centre for Functional Microbial Genomics and Host Defense.

In F2019, DMRF paid out $5.2m in capital equipment grants, scholarships, fellowships, studentships, research chairs, and recognition awards. DMRF’s 2019 financials are not yet posted and the financials will be updated as soon as they are available. 

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation spent $3.4m (65% of total grants) on multi-disciplinary research grants in 2019. It also granted $491k (9% of total grants) to the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute and $310k (6% of total grants) to studentships. DMRF awarded eight fellowships to Student Talent for Immunotherapy and Cancer Research in F2018.

One of DMRF’s highlights is Dr. Berman’s cancer research using zebrafish. Since zebrafish are transparent, researchers can observe cancer cells growing in them and their response to different environments and drugs. This will result in more personalized cancer treatments for patients. DMRF is also funding research on the power of playing games, like Jenga, on children’s mental health.

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Results and Impact

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation reports that from 2013 to 2018, Dalhousie medical researchers co-authored over 2,200 publications with colleagues from over 350 institutions in more than 35 countries. DMRF also reports funding a new piece of equipment that allows researchers to visualize the inside of 5,000 cells per second – 125 times faster than other machines. This will help researchers better understand, prevent, and treat a variety of diseases and conditions.

While Ci highlights these key results, they may not be a complete representation of Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s results and impact.

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Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation is a ­­­­medium-sized charity, with total donations of $3.4m in F2019. Administrative costs are 22% of revenues (excluding investment income) and fundraising costs are 34% of donations. Charity Intelligence calculates that DMRF spent 55% on overhead. This is outside Ci’s reasonable range. However, in 2013, DMRF "adopted a policy of funding operating expenditures through investment income," as noted in Financial Note 2 (see audited financial statements link above). DMRF's money earned from investments is available to offset overhead costs on donations (see charity's comment below).

Donors’ most asked question is, "how much of my donation goes to the cause?" For charities with large endowments, this is a tricky question. The financial statements do not tell how much of donations go towards research grants, "the cause," relative to the endowment's investment income.  Nor does one know how much of DMRF's $1.0m annual surplus (13% of revenues) in F2019 is donations or investment income. Furthermore, DMRF says that 100% of donations given to some appeals go to research. Different fundraising events and different appeals will have different costs. The CRA Charities Directorate requires charities to report using a global calculation.

Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation has total funding reserves of $88.0m, which include $87m (99%) of endowed funds. DMRF's audited financial statements do not disclose donor-endowed and board-endowed funds. As such, Charity Intelligence cannot break out donor-endowed funds from total funding reserves. Assuming a 5% annual return on DMRF’s endowment fund, annual granting activities can be covered indefinitely. 

DMRF's funding reserves earned investment income of $4.6m in F2019. This represents an annual return on investment of 5% compared with investment returns of 4% in F2018. As of F2019, the foundation holds its investments in stocks (60%) and bonds (38%), compared with stocks (78%) and bonds (18%) in F2018.

This charity report is an update that has been sent to Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation for review. Charity Intelligence and DMRF management have discussed this report. Additional changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Edited on May 24, 2019 by Kate Bahen. Updated on June 25, 2019 by Lauren Chin.

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending March
Administrative costs as % of revenues 21.7%16.5%14.8%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 33.6%24.3%24.0%
Total overhead spending 55.4%40.8%38.8%
Program cost coverage (%) 1,701.6%2,364.0%3,073.0%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 3,4363,9583,464
Government funding 020
Investment income 4,6333,17810,359
Total revenues 8,0697,13813,824
Grants 5,1693,6622,768
Administrative costs 746654512
Fundraising costs 1,156963832
Total spending 7,0715,2954,134
Cash flow from operations 9981,8599,711
Capital spending 61530
Funding reserves 87,95386,57785,067

Note: To show donors total expenses on a cash basis, Charity Intelligence has removed DMRF's non-cash amortization charge pro-rated from administrative/management costs and fundraising costs. This adjustment reduces DMRF's fundraising cost by $9k in F2019, $9k in F2018, and $8k in F2017. This adjustment reduces DMRF's management and administrative costs by $6k in F2019, $6k in F2018 and $8k in F2017.

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 6

Avg. compensation: $93,114

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 F2018

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

100% of donations to our annual programs, such as the Molly Appeal, In Memoriam, and other fundraising initiatives are directed to research projects in Medicine, Health and Dentistry at Dalhousie University.

The statement above that only $.61 of every dollar donated to DMRF is directed toward research grants is based on a generic calculation and is incorrect. Ci has assumed that donations are directed first toward administration and fundraising costs, with the remaining balance going to grants. The impact of investment income, a significant source of funding for us and other similar foundations, has been omitted.

Owing to the foresight of our founding members and careful investment management, the Foundation’s endowment has grown significantly over the past 40 years. Investment income on these endowed funds not only supports an increasing amount of research funding, a portion also covers our operating costs. This spending policy is articulated in Note 2 to our audited financial statements.

Comments submitted regarding F2017 rating and review.

Charity Contact

Website: www.dmrf.ca
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 1.888.866.6559


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Charitable Registration Number: 80340 7956 RR0001