Canadian National Institute for the Blind

1929 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4G 3E8
President & CEO: John M. Rafferty
Board Chair: Robert Penner

Charitable Reg. #:11921 9459 RR0003


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

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Audited financial statements for current and previous years available on the charity’s website.



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) 44 cents are available for programs.

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About Canadian National Institute for the Blind:

Founded in 1918, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) supports people impacted by blindness or vision impairment. CNIB runs community-based programs and advocates for those affected by blindness so that they can live the lives they choose. It is headquartered in Toronto and has 50 local offices across Canada. The charity reports that 1.5 million Canadians identify themselves as having a sight loss and 5.6 million have an eye disease that could cause vision loss. CNIB reports that the leading causes of blindness are cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. As of 2017, CNIB notes that in Canada, the total annual financial cost to society of vision loss is $23.5 billion dollars.

CNIB runs six main programs to empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. These programs are titled: Advocate, Live, Learn, Tech, Play, and Work. No spending breakdown by program was provided by the charity.

Advocate: Canadian National Institute for the Blind's advocacy program works to achieve equality for Canadians with a sight loss. A program highlight in F2020 was the launch of an advocacy campaign to retaliate against three Canadian broadcasters who were petitioning for an exemption from providing described video (DV). This campaign resulted in an amended condition of license for these major Canadian broadcasters, forcing them to provide DV for primetime programming.

Live: CNIB describes this program as offering support and services to enhance the lives of people impacted by blindness. Some facets of the program include guide dog partnerships, peer support programs, and scheduled friendly call services. In F2020, the charity notes having 25 partnership guide dogs graduate from training, with eight future dogs currently being raised in Calgary and Regina. 

Learn: This program offers education, skills, and literacy support/training to foster social skills and independence in those impacted by a sight loss. CNIB notes having 50 children enter its Braille Creative Writing Contest, and 12 youth attend its pre-employment workshops in F2020. It also awarded 30 scholarships to support those with vision loss in attending post-secondary studies.

Tech: CNIB's Tech program provides training and accessibility services to ensure people impacted by blindness can use technology. The charity connected more than 450 Canadians impacted by vision loss with smartphones in F2020.

Play: The Play program offers social, recreational, and cultural activities for people with vision impairments. A major component of this program is the charity's summer camps held on the shores of Lake Joseph, ON. CNIB notes hosting its first international learning retreat and welcoming 1,630 guests to its camp in F2020.

Work: This program focuses on providing resources and training to individuals impacted by blindness so that they can obtain work. This year, CNIB provided seven youths internships and connected 80 individuals with business mentors.

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Results and Impact

On June 21st, 2019, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-81 – the Act to Ensure a Barrier-Free Canada, also called the Accessible Canada Act. This act enables the federal government and organizations with federal jurisdiction to ensure that public spaces, workplaces, employment services, and information are accessible to everyone. CNIB states that this proactively eliminates and prevents barriers to opportunities for people living with disabilities. The charity was active in providing insights and advocating on behalf of blind Canadians while the bill was being built and reviewed. In F2020, Bill C-81 received Royal Assent.

Regarding CNIB's Work program, of the 400 people in its talent pool, 25% have secured work. 

Charity Intelligence highlights these key results. They may not be a complete representation of CNIB's results. Charity Intelligence has not assessed impact on CNIB. This shows as n/r, meaning not rated.

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Canadian National institute for the Blind is a Major 100 charity, meaning it is one of Canada’s largest charities in terms of donations. CNIB received $27.8m in donations in F2020. The charity also received $1.7m in government funding, $3.0m from net business activities, and $2.3m from net lottery revenue.

Administrative costs are 6% of revenues and fundraising costs are 50% of donations. For every dollar donated, 44 cents go to the cause. This is well outside of Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending.

The charity holds $46.7m in funding reserves, of which $13.2m is donor-endowed. Excluding donor-endowed funds, the charity can cover just under 14 months of annual program costs.

Capital expenditures of ($53.5m) in F2018 are a result of $55.7m in proceeds from the disposal of capital assets.

CNIB's auditors, Deloitte, note a legal action from the ordinary course of CNIB's operations in its F2020 audited financial statements. Management believes the resolution of these legal matters will not materially affect CNIB's financial position.

CNIB uses external fundraisers. In F2020, it paid $3.7m to raise $2.3m, equating to a cost of $1.60 for every dollar raised for the charity by the external fundraisers.

This charity report is an update that has been sent to CNIB for review. Changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Updated on June 25, 2021 by Rachel Leteta.

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending March
Administrative costs as % of revenues 5.6%4.8%2.6%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 50.4%47.7%37.8%
Total overhead spending 56.0%52.5%40.4%
Program cost coverage (%) 114.4%179.7%105.7%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 27,79525,38430,727
Government funding 1,7275,60831,939
Fees for service 4,1723471,068
Lotteries (net) 2,2552,9502,103
Business activities (net) 2,9533,9524,542
Investment income (3,969)7553,210
Other income 1,087926926
Total revenues 36,02039,92274,515
Program costs 29,94529,25354,267
Administrative costs 2,2451,8651,843
Fundraising costs 13,99512,10911,622
Other costs 2,9972,2951,421
Total spending 49,18245,52169,153
Cash flow from operations (13,162)(5,599)5,362
Capital spending 4,1522,574(53,530)
Funding reserves 46,67264,66669,831

Note: Ci reported endowment contributions in donations, increasing total revenue by $90k in F2020, $78k in F2019, and $589k in F2018. Investment market fluctuation of ($1.1m) in F2020, ($325k) in F2019, and $213k in F2018 was accounted for as investment income (loss). Ci adjusted for deferred contributions, affecting revenues by ($1.3m) in F2020, ($3.9m) in F2019, and $3.6m in F2018. Ci also recognized amortization of deferred capital contributions of $847k in F2020, $1.5m in F2019, and $1.8m in F2018. As no indication of whether or not deferred contributions include government revenue, Ci used its best judgement to assume deferred contributions and deferred capital contributions were from non-governmental sources. Gain on the sale of capital assets was not recognized in revenue, decreasing total revenue by $1.1m in F2020, $2.0m in F2019, and $10.5m in F2018. Ci reports retail lottery and gaming revenue net of expenses in lotteries, decreasing total revenue and expenses by $8.8m in F2020, $7.6m in F2019, and $7.5m in F2018. CNIB manages two government-funded programs, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) and Deafblind Community Services (DBCS). The expenses from these two programs were reallocated to net business activities, reducing revenues and expenses by $22.1m in F2020 and $38.5m in F2019. Amortization of capital assets was backed out of program, administrative, and fundraising costs on a pro-rata basis.

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 390

Avg. compensation: $78,941

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 F2020

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

[Charity Intelligence note: This profile has recently been updated. The comments that follow apply to an earlier version and may be revised.]

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life.

To do that, our dedicated specialists work with people of all ages in their own homes, communities or local CNIB offices – providing the personalized rehabilitation support they need to see beyond vision loss, build their independence and lead the lives they want.

In addition to our community-based services, we also work hand-in-hand with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to advocate for a barrier-free society, and we strive to eliminate avoidable sight loss with world-class research and by promoting the importance of vision health through public education.

To make a donation or learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.

Charity Contact

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 1-800-265-4127


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Charitable Registration Number: 80340 7956 RR0001