“Be Informed. Give Intelligently. Have Impact”
While the atmosphere in the Charity Intelligence office is relaxed and carefree, they assured me that their work is anything but.
Meet Kate Bahen and Angela Wang, of Charity Intelligence (CI). Kate, the co-founding member and current CEO is a former equity analyst and Angela is a Master of Economics. Intelligence? Yeah, I think their name is justified.
CI is a non-profit organization that builds detailed reports on charities across Canada, much in the same way as analysts research companies in the financial market. The motivation behind starting the company? Simple. It needed to be done. After an array of bad experiences that her and her friends had with charities, Kate decided to explore where she could find enough information to prevent the same mistakes being made. Shockingly, such a thing didn’t exist back in 2006. At first, they started off writing occasional reports and sending them out in the mail. But once word got out that there were people writing detailed financial reports on an industry shrouded in questions, things began to escalate.
Their hobby became their career.
Kate attributes the rapid increase in demand for their services to the shock that many people experienced when looking at the numbers; “charities are very good at telling stories, but we were presenting the facts”.
Despite being for profit financial analysts by trade, CI takes their role as a charity very seriously. They aim to keep costs to a minimum compared to the big investment banks found just across the street in Toronto’s financial district. Charity is a team of a few paid staff and engaged volunteers.
Kate is humble when asked about her role in the company, despite being the founder and CEO she jokes that all she does is answer the phones nowadays and that Angela and the rest of the team do all the hard work. Yet, despite their self-deprecating humour, there is plenty that Kate and Angela are proud of. Kate is a great believer in people and that they have a right to information. If somebody is giving away their hard-earned money, they are justified to ask where it’s going. She goes on to address that she has encountered multiple charities who have said that the public doesn’t need to know because most won’t understand the numbers! This is exactly what Charity Intelligence looks to counter, holding charities accountable. This provides givers with absolute confidence and
Now let’s play the numbers game. Each year all the research gets collated into a top ten list and published. The result? CI estimates an extra $32 Million goes to those 10 charities that are put onto the list. Want more numbers? They estimate that annually they influence $74 million worth of charitable giving in Canada. Serious numbers.
That “this ragtag bunch of misfits with a few computers” are able to wield that much positive influence is pretty incredible. Thirteen years on, Canadians are giving more and giving with confidence. In addition to this, charities are delivering a better service to those who need it most.
Visit Charity Intelligence to find out more