Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

Finding a Charity

Selecting a charity

Choosing the right charity for your YPI project is an important decision. It will have to be an eligible organization, one that your team agrees on, and one that you can be passionate about.  Luckily, we’re here to help!

Read through this material to be sure of what charities are eligible, find answers to the most common questions, and look up links for directories that will help you with your research.


For your YPI presentation, you may choose any registered, social service charity that is directly providing services or programming in your school’s local community. While you research charities, you may find it helpful to use this checklist (click on each item to expand it and read more details):

In Canada, all registered charities will have a charitable registration number (it will look something like 123456789RR0001). To double check that an organization has charitable status, use the search tool on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Ensure your chosen charity provides services to people within your own community or city. Local charities that are part of a larger group or organization can be considered, but only if they have a chapter or branch in your community. Ask yourself, “If someone hearing this presentation wanted to volunteer or use the services of this charity, could they?”

Sometimes people have to go further to find a specialized program or service, so if you think someone in your community would reasonably travel to use the services of a charity, that would be local.

Social service charities directly address social issues and social inequalities by providing basic needs or support to people. 

Some examples of charitable sectors that are not included in the YPI granting criteria are:

  • Medical research/equipment (health-related charities that provide social services for people and families living with illnesses are eligible, such as special camps, arts therapy, counselling, etc.)
  • Environmental sector (charities that provide services to mitigate the human impact of environmental/climate issues are eligible, e.g. settlement for climate refugees, clean water access)
  • International aid/development organizations
  • Animal sector (charities that involve animals in providing social services to people are eligible)
  • Charities that don’t provide direct services but focus only on research, advocacy and/or public awareness

What if the charity I'm interested in isn't eligible?

Social service charities help people in so many different ways that at least one of them probably matches your interests. For example, some charities use animals in their work to support people, either through therapy programs, or as trained support animals. Healthcare facilities often provide – or are linked to – social services to support individuals with new diagnoses, with grief, or the socio-emotional challenges related to illness. While doing your research, consider some of these creative approaches and which ones might be interesting to you.

Connecting with a Charity

For the 2023/24 upcoming school year, adhering of course to all local health guidelines to ensure the safety of students, teachers and charity staff, we are excited to recommend that in-person charity visits and interviews may resume.

The internet can be a great tool for research, but you may have to go beyond Google keyword searches to find all the charities in your community. Keep in mind that smaller organizations may not have the same online presence as the bigger, well-known ones, but will likely benefit even more from the public awareness you can raise for them. And they can be doing interesting work!

At the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to a number of national and regional charity databases, but don’t be afraid to take your search offline. Community centres, libraries, places of worship, and your school guidance office may have great recommendations and referrals for services offered locally.

Review the practice scripts and sample emails for guidance on how you can communicate professionally with your chosen charity. Above all, be respectful and polite, and be as clear as possible about why you’re calling and what you’re asking for. It can be nerve wracking to phone a stranger, but remember: these are people who help others every day, they are usually very kind.

Be prepared with a back-up plan. If you can’t connect with a charity, act quickly and contact another charity on your shortlist. Understand that charities can be very busy and/or have limited staff, and may not be in a position to meet with students.

You can use this guide to complete your charity shortlist. 

Have your interview questions prepared ahead of time, and use this opportunity to ask things that someone couldn’t easily find online. This might include a deeper understanding of how the social issue you’ve chosen affects the people they serve, how your chosen charity approaches their work with clients, and how current events or politics might be affecting their mission. Always ask permission before you take photos or record video, and take good notes. You can also review our written guide to preparing for your charity visit and interview

Always keep safety in mind. Before you visit a charity, be sure to tell your parents/guardians where you will be. If your school is allowing you to visit during school hours, respect any guidelines the school has around informing teachers on where you will be.

Thank the charity for their time. Follow up with a card or gesture showing your appreciation for their time and for what you’ve learned. Can you think of any ways in which your talents could help meet some of your charity’s needs? Ask them if there are any volunteer opportunities that you can take advantage of to learn more through experience.

Keep in mind that the YPI judging process considers how you have used your skills/time to do something helpful for your charity. Students who are more involved with their charities often have more compelling presentations.

Charity Directories

The following websites keep databases of charities and social service agencies to help people connect with services they need, or with opportunities to volunteer or support through donations. They can be a great research tool, but remember to check that the charity you select meets the eligibility requirements for YPI! Not all charities have a social service focus, and not all social service organizations are registered charities.

Scroll to Top