Know Your Charities

"The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."

— William James

Get to know the organizations you want to benefit.

If you do not yet have any specific charitable organizations in mind, but have determined your general area of philanthropic interest, then you should identify several organizations that fit in that area. Visit their websites, call them for information, request their printed materials and/or ask for a tour if that is practical.

How do you discover such organizations? While family, friends, advisors, your local library or even telephone book might be your first sources of information, there are other resources to which you can turn. A reliable place to start is with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). All registered charities in Canada are listed on the CRA website in the Charity Directorate section. Click here to go directly to the searchable database.

Another helpful resource is your local Volunteer Centre. These organizations foster and develop volunteer activity in your region. They typically have current contact and profile information on charities active in your community. To find the Volunteer Centre closest to you, go to the Volunteer Canada website.

When evaluating an organization, consider:

  • Overall mission and planning
  • Strength of financial structure, administration, and governing board
  • Strength of individual programs and services
  • Effectiveness in comparison to similar organizations
  • Record of success and potential for greater achievement

Most effective organizations will have this type of information readily available. But don't automatically rule out smaller organizations that don't have glossy presentations. They may be the diamonds in the rough that, while hidden, just need a little polish to sparkle and flourish. A bit more research and due diligence may well uncover a gem that will thrive with funding such as yours.