Make Your Donation Work

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Canadians are a generous lot, donating more than four billion dollars annually to the 100 biggest charities, according to Charity Intelligence, an organization that provides detailed audits of how much money each charity raises and, perhaps more importantly, how much they spend on fundraising, administration costs and salaries.

Yes, it’s good to give. But, you don’t necessarily want to open your wallet for a charity that isn’t going to use your donation wisely. A recent 158-page survey by the Edmonton-based Muttart Foundation shows that many Canadians, especially those 65 and older, are becoming increasingly concerned that charities are not directing to the people who need it most.

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The Talking About Charities report revealed that 73 per cent of Canadians 65 and older agree that more attention needs to be paid to the “way charities spend their money” (nine per cent higher than the national average); 57 per cent feel charities should have “legal limits on spending” (11 per cent higher than national average); 71 per cent say charities “spend too much on fundraising” (19 per cent higher than national average); and only 53 per cent feel charities are “very good at spending money wisely” (seven per cent lower than national average).

This isn’t to say charities are mismanging money. But to inform your charitable choice, look into the charity’s financial picture. Charity Intelligence Canada’s website posts all you need to know about key factors – like how much money the organization raises, how much it spends on programs and services and how much is swallowed up by administrative and fundraising costs.

Using CI’s latest figures, here’s a breakdown of how some of the better-known national charities spend your donated dollar.