Volunteer-driven Organization Consistently Recognized as One of Canada’s Best Charities in Terms of ‘Bang for the Buck’
Lifewater Canada, a local non-profit organization that provides safe and accessible water to people in Africa and Haiti, has been ranked as one of the ten best Canadian charities for ensuring donations achieve meaningful improvement in people’s lives.
The ranking comes from Charity Intelligence—an independent entity that monitors the performance of more than 800 non-profit organizations in Canada. Each year, Charity Intelligence compiles its “Top 10 Impact Charities” list. The 2021 list was released on November 9 and Lifewater was included for the third consecutive year.
“Some charities create a lot of change with the donations given to them; others have almost nothing to show for the money coming from donors,” says Greg Thomson, Charity Intelligence’s research director. “These top ten have the highest measurable demonstrated impact. Our calculations estimate this group delivers average returns of almost $7 for every $1 donated, compared with overall average returns of only $1-$2 dollars.”
Charity Intelligence also included Lifewater among Canada’s top ten charities focused on international relief and development and selected Lifewater as Canada’s most impactful charity among those focused on providing water.
“We are honoured to be consistently assessed so positively by Charity Intelligence, an organization focused on helping Canadians make intelligent decisions about their charitable giving,” says Lifewater president Lynda Gehrels. “We will continue to focus on keeping our administrative and fundraising costs as low as possible (7.1% in 2020-2021 and 5.9% in 2019-2020) while ensuring that we are accountable in ensuring that every donated dollar helps someone receive safe, accessible water.”
Each project that Lifewater completes is posted on the organization’s website with photos, GPS coordinates, information about the benefiting community, and a thank you note from community leaders, so donors can easily see the impact of their contributions. Lifewater also provides regularly updated reports detailing how many people are benefiting from each project, plus cumulative data, including total beneficiaries, local economic impact, the number of additional hours children are in school each month since they no longer need to walk long distances every day to fetch water, and the number of additional hours girls are in school to improve their lives and offer new opportunities.
According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control, 780 million people are forced to drink untreated water every day. Someone – usually a child – is dying every 20 seconds from diarrheal diseases, including dysentery and cholera, caused by dirty water and inadequate sanitation.
In response to this tragedy, Lifewater is drilling wells, rehabilitating dormant wells, repairing broken hand pumps so wells can be functional again, installing rainwater catchment systems, constructing toilets and hand washing stations, and providing vital health and hygiene training. More than 3.8 million people have benefited since Lifewater was established as a registered Canadian charity in 1997.
Lifewater was founded by the late Jim Gehrels after he witnessed firsthand the urgent need for safe accessible water during a 1997 trip to Africa. Gehrels was a hydrogeologist who was passionate about sharing his knowledge about water to help those those in need. Despite an eye disease that would eventually leave him blind, he travelled overseas many times to improve access to safe water and sanitation. When Gehrels passed away in July 2020, his wife Lynda began leading Lifewater which is headquartered in her Thunder Bay home.
Lifewater leads projects in Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Haiti.