Understanding our Ratings
What we're analyzing
Charity Intelligence analysts review publicly-available information on each of the over 700 charities we evaluate. This includes their financial statements, annual reports, CRA T3010 filings, and websites. Each charity is consistently rated given the standards set in our rating methodology. We work for donors, not charities, to shed light on the giving landscape and provide donors with the knowledge to make informed giving decisions.
What the star rating means
If you subscribe to Charity Intelligence, you will be able to see each charity's star rating, whether they are a 0-star or 4-star charity. We make our 4-star ratings visible to all website visitors because we want everyone to have access to this information.
Our star ratings are based on the following 5 factors:
1. Results Reporting
The results reporting grade is an evaluation of the charity's reporting levels. This evaluation takes into account the public reporting of the charity's activities, outputs, and outcomes, without assessing the strength or quality of these elements. This grade accounts for 40% of the star rating.
A charity can have a score ranging from A+ to F.
2. Financial Transparency
We judge a charity's financial transparency based on how easily we can access its audited statements. A fully transparent score (100% on the transparency range) means that 2+ years of its statements are posted on its website; 66% means that its most recent statement is posted; 33% means that its statements are only available when requested from the charity; and 0% means that its statements are only available through a request for information with the Charities Directorate. We consider those charities that have at least the most recent year posted financially transparent, and those where we have to ask, not financially transparent.
A charity's financial transparency accounts for 20% of the star rating.
3. Need for Funding
Another component of our evaluation is the charity's need for funding, comparing its funding reserves relative to the costs of its programming. Funding reserves include liquid assets of cash, cash equivalents, and investment securities, subtracting interest-bearing liabilities from the total. The need for funding ratio is calculated based on the comparison between these two totals, separating out donor-endowed funds from the funding reserves. This ratio accounts for 20% of the star rating.
4. Cents to the Cause
We evaluate how many cents are available to go towards the charity's programs for each dollar donated as the final 20% of the charity star rating. We have developed a "reasonable range" for overhead spending: 5% to 35%. If overhead costs are below 5%, we reason that the charity is either not spending enough on its fundraising and overhead costs, or it may not be disclosing these costs appropriately. Above 35%, there is concern that the charity may not be operating effectively. Above 50%, there is concern that the charity is overspending on fundraising and administrative costs.
5. Social Impact Rating
The final factor that affects the star rating is the social impact rating. The impact ratings display the social impact produced by the charity for each dollar donated as well as a measure of the quality of the data available to assess the charity's social impact. For a more detailed description of this metric, please see our Social Impact Ratings Methodology page.
As an addition to our original evaluation, we are still in the process of reviewing social impact for charities, and you will not always see it in the analysis. If it has been done, the social impact rating has the ability to increase or decrease a charity's star rating by one.
- Programs: For more information about the charity, its results and impact, and its presence in the news, you can find that information under the Programs section.
- Finances: We break down the charity's finances in this section, comparing the most recent three years of our analysis. We also include salary information.
- Comments & Contact: Charity Intelligence sends all this information as a report to the respective charity for any edits or comments. We include these comments here if provided.
For charities that have a lower score, we provide thoughtfully-selected alternative charities doing similar work in similar geographies for donors that are looking to make a switch but still want to donate to the same cause. This list can be found in the right-hand sidebar of many lower-scored charity profiles.