On May 3, 2016 a wildfire engulfed Fort McMurray forcing the mass evacuation of more than 88,000 people, The fire destroyed 2,400 homes. Fort McMurray is Canada's largest natural disaster. Canadians watched in horror. Fort McMurray was in our thoughts, prayers and top of mind in charitable giving. Canadians donated $319 million - the largest ever donation response to a Canadian disaster.

Now the fire is out, the people have returned to Fort McMurray, and the overwhelming job of rebuilding begins. While life goes on it's important to remember Fort McMurray and track that donations are spent quickly and effectively. Evaluating and monitoring are critical in intelligent giving.

Canadian Red Cross and other charities that responded will post donor reports in the months and years ahead. Charity Intelligence will analyse and evaluate these reports so donors can be informed. In addition, Charity Intelligence will keep a close eye on Fort McMurray's local charities to ensure they get the money to recover and play their critical role in Fort McMurray's rebuilding.

"Great to see @CharityIntel keeping @redcross accountable for #FortMac fires donations." @markyeg July 12, 2016

Charity Intelligence reports on Fort McMurray:

Fort McMurray 1 Year Update Canadian Red Cross announced 1-year results on its Fort McMurray's disaster response. The 1-year figures are presented differently from prior numbers; "money spent" has been conflated into a new category "money spent and committed". It is disappointing that the financial disclosure is today murkier than it was 6 months ago. This is frustrating, especially with $323 million so generously given by Canadians and government-matching funds. To have the most impact in disaster relief, processes need to be fast, promises need to be kept.

We will be posting a report shortly. In the meantime, it looks like CRC has "spent and committed to spend" in the last 6 months:

  • $26 million on small businesses (bringing total spending and commitments to $28.5 million) (This commitment to local businesses is a 50:50 initiative between the Alberta government's matching funds and Canadian Red Cross donations).
  • $18 million for individuals and families both in Fort McMurray and support to those who left Fort McMurray (bringing total spent and committed to $183 million)
  • $17 million to local charities (bringing total spent and committed to $24 million).

Nearly one year after Fort McMurray's fire, Canadian Red Cross has spent and committed to spend $244 million - leaving $79 million to commit and spend. This represents 24.4% of the $323 million received in donations and government matching grants.

Initial thoughts: spending for families and individuals has really slowed, from $5.3 million a month between August-November 2016, now averaging $3 million a month for 11,900 families receiving support. This works out to $252 per family per month. Canadian Red Cross reports an additional 2,900 families are receiving housing support since November. Canadian Red Cross call centres handled 40,000 calls during the 6 month period.

Fuse Social's survey shows that local Fort McMurray charities are suffering a lack of donations and volunteers. These local charities have been slow in accessing Red Cross funding due to perhaps not meeting Red Cross criteria or not having any staff to complete the applications. Youth programs are suffering with a lack of volunteers and funding, like the Boys Scouts.

April 24, 2017

Fort McMurray 6 Month Update In the most recent three months, Canadian Red Cross received an additional $20 million in donations and spent $21 million. Spending was primarily on Red Cross programs ($16 million). Canadian Red Cross is doing one-to-one needs assessments. So far it has completed 13,310 client assessments, providing 9,000 families with money for temporary housing, rent, mortgage and utility payments. Canadian Red Cross has spent an estimated $187 million - 59% of total funds available - with $130 million remaining for Fort McMurray's relief and rebuilding. All of these funds have been committed, but commitments may change with new needs emerging - November 3, 2016

Fort McMurray 3 Month Update  Canadian Red Cross announced new spending commitments of $92 million. New commitments include $62 million for more Canadian Red Cross programs and $26 million to Fort McMurray's small and mid-sized businesses. This allocates the full $299 million in donations and matching government funds. Now the challenge is to move from commitments to execution. After fast disaster response in May, spending slowed. To date, $165 million has been spent - 55% of total funds available. Fort McMurray’s local charities haven’t seen much of the $50 million promised in June. We hope this changes, quickly - September 29, 2016

Fort McMurray 2 Month Update  The disaster phase is over. Fort McMurray now transitions to the relief and rebuilding phase. To date, 45% of donations and grants spent, Canadian Red Cross has an estimated $141 million to spend. This report gives donors a review of the disaster response with comparisons to other Canadian disasters Alberta Floods, Lac Megantic and Slave Lake, and brief updates on a few of Fort McMurray’s local charities – July 7, 2016

Fort McMurray Local Charities get $50 million commitment from Canadian Red CrossJune 3, 2016

Canadian Red Cross gives another $25 million to evacuees with re-entry scheduled to begin shortlyMay 30, 2016

Charity Intelligence recommends giving to Fort McMurray local charities in disaster response – May 5, 2016


To receive Charity Intelligence’s updates on Fort McMurray, join Charity Intelligence’s Facebook, Twitter @CharityIntel, sign up for Charity Intelligence emails, or check back here for updates.

Future reports expected:

1 year report – expected May 2017

2 year report – expected May 2018

3 year Final report – expected May 2019



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