Find a charity that’s right for you with this simple roadmap

September 03, 2020
6 min read

Caroline Dobuzinskis

Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing Content

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We guide you through how to find a list of charities that best matches your values and your intentions. Here’s how to find a charity to give to, or a guide to simply explore the landscape. 

Giving comes naturally but knowing where to give is not so easy. With more than 86K registered charities available to give to across Canada, the choices can seem endless. Avoid the overwhelm by shedding more wisdom on the intention of your giving.

Keep in mind, you can use the Charitable Impact search engine to find a charity or multiple charities and Giving Groups based on topics, causes, and keywords. There are charity ratings and certifications to explore that could bring more due diligence and fine tuning to your decision making. You can also look to experts, like those in our Choose Your Impact Campaign, who can help to provide insight on which charities are supporting the causes you care most about. 

Before we get there, let’s lay out the map and decide which direction you might want to pursue.

It’s not about finding the top charities; it’s about finding the top charities for you. The list of good charities that match your interests may not necessarily match other lists out there. We have created a series of questions to help better align your giving with your interests and your goals. 

To find a charity to give to, a good first step is thinking about your mission or value statement.

What values drive and motivate you in life? These are the same values that will likely motivate your giving. You can look through a pre-set list of values and narrow yours down to a shortlist of 5. Another strategy is to think freely about what you care most about in life and how you want your legacy to look. 

For example, if you care deeply about compassion and care, you may want to consider giving to a charity for the homeless or other vulnerable groups. If honesty and integrity are highly important to you, perhaps find a charity supporting research or advocacy in the interest of public knowledge. 

Think like a philanthropist.

We believe everyone can be a philanthropist. It’s about giving with intention and pursuing generosity that has a positive impact. You can start with the most effective tools for giving, like a donor-advised fund with Charitable Impact, and then define philanthropy according to your own terms.

You may not have thought of all the tools and resources available to you as a donor. We put together a list of tips on how to use handy tools like personal networks, communities, online forums, and search engines.

Ponder your own story.

What has helped you personally to thrive? Is there an experience that you feel has shaped you positively? If you can contribute to bringing that experience to others through charitable giving, that could be a good place to start. The empathy of lived experience is an unmatched motivator for giving. 

Pinpoint exactly how you want to give.

Are you interested in giving locally or globally? Are you thinking about a cause that directly affects your own community or neighbourhood, or would you rather invest your giving in a broader, more global issue? At this point, you are starting to narrow down your search criteria more clearly in order to find the best charities for you. 

It can also be helpful to understand the different types of registered charities or qualified donees that you can support. When you know the difference between a public foundation, a private foundation, and a charitable organization, you can better decide how to direct your giving.

Take a moment to think about your giving stamina.

Are you okay with seeing smaller wins while you work towards a larger shift or transformation requiring more policy changes (such as reducing homelessness or improving access to education). Or, would you rather see immediate, visible, and tangible changes (such as a new hospital wing or an addition to a local community garden).

Outline your spending priorities.

Are you interested in supporting the charity’s own innovation and ability to adapt to needs by investing in their infrastructure costs? Or, do you want something with low overhead? All charities need resources to adapt and thrive. Still, some may be required to be more nimble than others and invest dollars in gaining more capacity for achieving their objectives. 

For example, a charity in the education space may regularly update its technology or infrastructure to keep pace with other educational programs. There are also larger issues that may require a certain level of overhead cost and expense to tackle due to their complexity.

Sidenote: Thrifty spending on overhead may not consistently result in a better charity or more efficient charity. Beyond looking at a charity’s annual report, if you are invested in the cause, you can start to ask more specific questions about their programming and expenses. Get to know how a charity measures its own success and what metrics they use. That data can help inform if their priorities are in line with yours. 

Think about other ways that you can give.

Can you take the time to volunteer and learn more about what a charity is accomplishing and how they are getting it done? Volunteering feels good and studies show it’s good for our health. It also boosts charitable giving and can provide more meaning to your giving decisions. 

Finally, most important of all, keep practicing your generosity.

If you end up giving to a charity that you think doesn’t meet your values or have the impact you were hoping for, try again. Ideally generosity is a lifelong process and something that you can become more engaged in over time as you build more skills. 

It’s not all for naught. Over the course of your giving journey, you will make valuable discoveries about yourself that could provide direction in other areas of your life. 


We all have a brighter future that we imagine, so let’s make it happen. Charitable Impact is an online giving platform that makes it simple to give to the causes you care about. When you sign up for a free Impact Account, you can give to all of your favourite causes all from one place. It’s your giving, your way, with our support.