Last week in the Chalice office, one of the staff members read the ratings that our Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) had received in the study published by Money Sense about the 100 biggest Canadian charities. I could have spent the next hour looking over the charts he had printed out to, for example, see how much money each of these charities spends to raise $100, or how much their highest staff member ‘earns’ annually. There were surprising figures for all categories, especially these.
The latest figure (from 2010) of how much Canadians give to to charities annually was $8.3 billion, yes, with a B. And as far as I know, that figure does not include tax-payer dollars that go to Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
So it is probably worth it for all Canadians to check out this list and how our biggest charities compare with one another (if not other smaller charities, obviously). We are all constantly bombarded with ads from many of them, sometimes on a daily basis, which of course raises the question: how much of our sincere donations are going towards advertising?
I was very pleasantly surprised that Chalice spends only $3.92 to raise every $100 and that the highest paid staff member earns just over $60,000. No bad compared to those charities–many of which raise money for cancer patients and research, strokes and MS in particular—which spend over $40 or $50 to raise $100! And others pay out well over a quarter of a million dollars annually ($460,771 in one case) to their highest paid executives.
It isn’t that I think that people who work for charities should forcibly be paid ‘peanuts’ for their work as compared to the private sector, as many people who work in them are actually very talented people who know how to multitask at creating and completing a variety of creative projects in challenging environments / areas. I do feel though, that salaries in the range of over $120,000 per year are just too high–who needs that much money anyways? If you are working in a non-profit, shouldn’t you be willing to earn less knowing that it is for the benefit of those in need?
And also, most charities would not be able to function without an army of volunteers, many of whom are also very multi-talented folks who usually receive no monetary benefit for their help; although obviously the many benefits and personal satisfactions gained while volunteering are enough for many volunteers, they too need to pay the rent.
OK, so I’m not here to rag on any charities in particular and by no means am I saying that the charity industry is an easy one to ‘make it’ in (I am aware that it is often quite the opposite), but please do check out the figures for yourself at:
It is certainly worth your time to see how efficient these ‘non-profits’ actually are, whether you donate to them or not. Maybe you can use the knowledge to advise family and friends on which charities to donate to. We need to make sure we hold these charities accountable and this starts with donating to those which we believe will use the money as efficiently as possible, with their mission statements and perhaps those who they aim to help close to the forefront.