How to Find Local Charities Near You

| 7 min read Charity

While it feels great to support a charity in any way, there is something special about making a difference through local charities in your own community. Helping a local charity can mean going beyond a one-time donation and getting to know your community on a deeper level. You might also gain a better understanding of the organization and its mission.

Here are a few tips on how to find charities near you, and some examples of charities operating in local communities in Canada.

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Finding charities near you

There are a number of easy and quick ways to find charities supporting a wealth of different things, from homelessness to animal help. Once you’ve decided which nonprofit you want to raise money for, we’ve got an article loaded with tips on the best ways to raise money for charity.

Search the Government of Canada’s charity list

The Government of Canada’s list of charities is an easy way to find nonprofits registered near you. You can search by organization name or other criteria like city, province, or territory. You can find lots of information about specific charities through the results of your search, including registration status and financial reports.

Use GoFundMe’s charity finder

Using GoFundMe’s charity finder can also help you locate charities in your area. If you know of a charity by name, you can search for it on the site to see what fundraisers are running. But also, if you search by location, you can find any charities that have that location in their name. You can also view our list of 25 of the best Canadian charities to donate to.

Contact charities directly

If you’re inspired by the work of a larger charity, it’s also an option to contact them and ask how they operate in your local area. Most larger charities will have an email address on site – or a contact form – so why not drop them a message to ask if they have any location-specific operations near you?

Our local charities list making helping easy

To make it even easier to find charities operating near you, we’ve put together a list of prominent local nonprofits that support a range of causes. If you want to support any of the charities mentioned here, you can start a fundraiser on their behalf or donate directly to the organization on GoFundMe.

1. United Way Greater Toronto

United Way is a national nonprofit split into autonomous local organizations, each operating independently of each other but with the overarching goal of ending local poverty. By establishing themselves in the communities they are advocating for, United Way’s regional organizations work towards relevant, effective solutions to food insecurity and related issues.

2. Safe Harbour Society

Located in Red Deer, Alberta, Safe Harbour provides support to vulnerable people and those facing crisis, including emergency shelter, detox and housing services, and Indigenous support. Working with other local organizations like treatment centres and hospitals, Safe Harbour works to keep the local community healthy, while providing shelter and support for anyone who needs it. You can support the charity’s work by making a monetary donation or donating items like clothing and toiletries.

3. Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR)

Working in collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) provides life saving marine assistance. The charity operates 30 rescue stations along the coast of British Columbia, ready to respond to marine emergencies 24 hours a day. It’s a volunteer-led organization and relies on the support of donors to continue its vital work.

4. Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario (formerly Autism Society Ontario) provides support to adults and children with autism, including advocating for equal employment opportunities, information about housing and mental health support, and support for children diagnosed with autism. The charity celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2023, by which time it had grown to become Ontario’s leading source of information about autism, supporting people in seven regions across the province.

5. Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International is a charity with a simple mission: to conserve and protect polar bears and their habitats. Founded in Manitoba, a region in which there is a polar bear population of approximately 935, the nonprofit works to raise awareness of the threat the animals face and ensure their long-term survival. You can support the charity in many ways, including adopting a polar bear, making a donation, or starting your own fundraising campaign.

6. Frye Festival

The Frye Festival is an annual literary event that takes place over ten days in Moncton, New Brunswick. The festival is named after the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye and is held to celebrate Canadian literature and promote youth literacy. The organization’s youth program, Frye Academy, is a free book club that gives children the opportunity to discover new literature and meet authors during the festival.

7. Alzheimer Society

The Alzheimer Society Federation is a partnership of 11 provincial Alzheimer Society organizations working together to support those in Canada living with dementia. While the individual societies work together under the same brand and mission, each leads its own programs and activities relevant to the needs and interests of the people in its local community. 

8. SPA de Quebec

Société protectrice des animaux (SPA) de Québec is one of the country’s foremost animal protection charities. It was originally founded over a century ago and today works to ensure the safety and well-being of household pets and wild animals across Quebec. It provides a point of contact for anyone who needs help with a lost or injured animal, and offers other support for animal owners, including help to obtain a pet license.

9. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation

The National Gallery of Canada in Ontario houses 75,000 works of art, including collections showcasing the history of Canadian and Indigenous art. The National Gallery of Canada Foundation was established in 1997 as a way for donors to support its work in preserving important pieces of the country’s artistic heritage.

10. Canuck Place Children’s Hospice

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (CPCH) opened in Vancouver in 1995, providing palliative care for children in British Columbia and the Yukon. CPCH says that it has experienced growing demand for its services and since 2017 has seen a “20% increase of children and families on program.” There are many ways to support the charity and help it continue its vital work, including donations, volunteering, and fundraising on its behalf.

Do more to help a charity

Besides donating to a nonprofit’s website or volunteering locally, why not spearhead your own fundraising efforts and make a difference in a unique way? Here are just a few people who took action and helped charities in their own communities:

Rachel Lacaille’s charity head shave

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Rachel Lacaille decided to raise money for charity with a sponsored head shave. Created in aid of the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (Fondation Cancer du Sein du Québec), Rachel raised over $23,000, far above the fundraiser’s original $15,000 goal. 

Family Half Ironman for Cancer Research & Support

In September 2023, Bernard, Jason, and Zac Abelson raised more than $13,000 to benefit the Canadian Cancer Society by completing a Half Ironman triathlon together: that’s a 1.9km outdoor swim, followed by a 90km bike ride and a 21km half marathon. The family trained for six months for the event, in order to raise money and awareness for a cause that has affected many people.

Make a difference in your community right now

There’s a reason why GoFundMe is one of the top charity fundraising sites around. We offer a fundraising model that allows you to keep more of your funds, and plenty of charity fundraising tips on our blog, not to mention 24/7 customer support from real people. When you’re ready, sign up to create your charity fundraiser on GoFundMe and begin making an even bigger difference in your community.

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Written by Ved Khan