Charity Standards

As a donor, how should you choose a charity?

We believe that the best starting point for choosing a charity is to ensure that it is registered and in good standing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Besides official registration, a charity should also meet the 73 rigorous standards in board governance, financial accountability, fundraising, staff management and volunteer involvement that are required to maintain an Imagine Canada accreditation and/or the 20 standards for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Charity Seal. These accreditations ensure a charity operates on ethical principles and has the sustainable structure for it to be truly effective in making a difference in society.

How about relying on annual rating lists published in the media, or should you consult a charity rating website? The important thing to consider if you decide to go this route is how the article or website analyses a charity to determine its social worth. Their evaluation methods should be based upon evidence-based research.

There is an ever-increasing amount of empirical research, academic studies and journalistic articles that are finding that financial efficiency calculations cannot assess the true performance of a charity. These studies conclude that charities with too low an overhead-cost ratio (sometimes depicted as "Charity Efficiency" or "Fundraising Efficiency") are likely less effective and as a result, less efficient. In fact, the three largest and most established charity watchdog groups in the Americas have publically rejected reporting methods that rely heavily on efficiency ratings as being of little value in determining the social impact of a charity. Charity Navigator, Guide Star and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance in the U.S. are actively working to debunk the Overhead Myth that is perpetuated by the use of these misleading metrics.

To learn more about the Canadian take on charity assessments read the note from Imagine Canada's CEO called "Trekking the Ratings."

Bottom Line: The most important factor is to know the charity and what it is accomplishing with the donations it receives. So, we encourage you to explore our website to find out more about us and to contact us with your questions. We'd be happy to speak to you about supporting outstanding health care in our community and beyond.

For more tips on wise charitable giving, check out Imagine Canada's Guide to Giving.