First Book Canada

90 Burnhamthorpe Rd W, Suite 1502
Mississauga, ON L5B 3C3
Executive Director: Tom Best
Board Chair: Tim Pinnington

Charitable Reg. #:88875 4603 RR0001


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

[Charity Rating: 4/5]



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) 97 cents are available for programs.

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About First Book Canada:

Founded in 2009, First Book Canada works to create equal access to quality education for children. First Book Canada reports that since 2009, it has distributed more than 7 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families across Canada. First Book believes that education is a child’s best path out of poverty, but access to quality education is far from equal. The charity says that almost 25% of Canadian households do not own a single book, and that with fewer than 10 books at home, a child can fall up to 18 months behind in school and may never catch up.

A Charity Intelligence 2020 Top 10 Canadian Impact Charity

First Book Canada distributed books through four channels: The First Book Canada National Book Bank, Pop Up Book Distributions, The First Book Canada Marketplace, and First Book Canada Reading Celebrations. The National Book Bank is a centralized system which offers large quantities of publisher-donated books for only the cost of shipping. Pop Up Book Distributions are in-community events that allow local educators and program leaders to choose from thousands of books for their children. The Marketplace is a member-only, online store offering children’s books and educational materials at 50-90% off retail prices. Reading Celebrations are events for students across Canada to have a visit and inspiring presentation by a children’s author or illustrator.

In F2018, First Book Canada distributed over one million new books and resources and reached over 300,000 children and youth throughout Canada. The First Book Canada Network is made up of educators, program leaders, health service providers, and professionals who serve children in need. The network has been growing steadily over the past few years. It had 9,434 members in F2018, compared with 7,397 in F2017 and 5,659 in F2016. First Book Canada reports that teachers have noticed increased reading levels since students received books from First Book. Students often share them with siblings, or practice reading to them.

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Results and Impact

Charity Intelligence has given First Book Canada a Good impact rating based on demonstrated impact per dollar spent.

A Charity Intelligence 2020 Top 10 Canadian Impact Charity

Impact Rating: Good

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First Book Canada is a large charity, with total donations and donated books in-kind of $8.4m in F2018, with donated books accounting for 91% of donations. Administrative costs are 3% of revenues (excluding investment income) and the charity reports no fundraising costs. For every dollar donated, 97 cents go to the cause. This is outside Ci’s reasonable range for overhead spending. Funding reserves of $494k can cover five months of annual program costs. Including books distributed in-kind in program costs, funding reserves can cover less than one month of annual program costs.

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

Updated on August 2, 2019 by Lauren Chin.

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending December
Administrative costs as % of revenues 3.0%1.5%3.2%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 0.0%0.0%0.0%
Total overhead spending 3.0%1.5%3.2%
Program cost coverage (%) 44.8%49.4%81.8%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 754707860
Goods in kind 7,60413,7005,899
Fees for service 311235250
Other income 946795
Total revenues 8,76314,7107,105
Program costs 1,102886814
Donated goods exp 7,60413,7005,899
Administrative costs 267215229
Fundraising costs 000
Total spending 8,97314,8026,943
Cash flow from operations (210)(92)162
Funding reserves 494438666

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 6

Avg. Compensation: $68,012

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 F2017

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

A child’s “first book” is not necessarily their first reading experience: it is the first book that they love, that they can call their own, and that sets them on a lifelong path of learning. Working with our extensive network of educators and program leaders, First Book Canada provides new, high-quality books that make their way into the hands and homes of children who would otherwise not have books of their own. 

Kids with better literacy skills go on to have better life outcomes. According to StatsCan data, the median household income for Canadians with literacy level 1 or below was $49,700, while the median household income for Canadians at level 4 or 5 literacy (the highest levels) was $84,600. (StatsCan 2016. The association between skills and low income.

Other studies link childhood literacy gaps to later criminal involvement, substance use, mental health challenges, and obesity. (ECCT 2009. The long term costs of literacy difficulties: 2nd edition. Every Child a Chance Trust.)

Books and stories enhance social and emotional skills, provide perspectives on the world, increase vocabulary and language and build a cognitive toolkit. They are essential windows to the world and empowering mirrors of experience. Together with our partners, we aim to make an impact in the lives of children in need throughout Canada.

Charity Contact

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 866-READ-NOW or 866-732-3669