Calgary groups dominate national top-10 list of most effective charities

Four of the 10 best charities in Canada in terms of best bang for the buck are based in Calgary, and ironically one of them just had its funding cut off by the United Way.

Four Calgary charities named to list released by Charity Intelligence Canada

Kate Bahen is the managing director of Charity Intelligence Canada. (CBC)

Calgarians who donate to four local charities are getting a good bang for their buck.

A national group called Charity Intelligence has released a top-10 list of the most effective charities in Canada, and four of those charities are based in Calgary: Calgary Food Bank, Children's Cottage Society, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, and Inn From The Cold Society. 

Charity Intelligence took a look at more than 70 charities across the country and examined the social and economic benefit that each one provides, said managing director Kate Bahen. 

She said the charities that made it on the list stand out for a combination of reasons. 

"They have great management, they're cost efficient, so there isn't a lot of wastage, and they are using their results to assess their programs," Bahen said. 

In addition to the four Calgary charities, the list included three Toronto-based charities (East York Learning Experience, Fort York Food Bank, and Jump Math), Food For Life Canada in Burlington, Ont., Pathways Clubhouse in Richmond, B.C., and Youth Fusion/Fusion Jeunesse in Montreal, Que. 

Bahen said there's an atmosphere in Calgary of charities having "an absolute manic focus" on their client results. 

"When you donate to Fresh Start Recovery or Calgary Food Bank or Inn From the Cold or the Children's Cottage Society, your dollar has far greater impact, upwards of $12 for every $1," Bahen said. 

Stacey Petersen is the executive director at Fresh Start Recovery Centre in Calgary.

Stacey Petersen, executive director at Fresh Start Recovery Centre, said the high rating is especially satisfying considering the local economy. 

"This year has been tough in a couple of different ways," Petersen said.

The organization's donations are down about 20 per cent, while its wait list has increased. Additionally, funding from the United Way was recently cut

"Like in any other investment climate, you want to invest your dollars where you see the biggest return. And Charity Intelligence has actually said these are the groups that are going to do that," he said. 

Erin Rumpel is a long-time donor to Fresh Start Recovery Centre.

Erin Rumpel and her family have donated to Fresh Start Recovery Centre for the past 10 years.

"Our family has a big background of addiction and we just started with Fresh Start hoping we could make a difference in the community," Rumpel said.

"They work tirelessly at Fresh Start to spend that money wisely, and that's what we like about them." 

With files from Andrew Brown