Why give?

Where every dollar goes

How Heart & Stroke invests donor dollars

The support of donors makes it possible for Heart & Stroke to achieve our mission of preventing disease, saving lives and promoting recovery. Every day, your contributions are helping create more survivors and to tangibly improve the health of Canadians.


How do we use your money to reach these goals? Here are answers to the questions we hear most frequently from donors and people considering making a donation. All figures are from fiscal year 2015.

How does the Foundation spend my money?


This means, of every dollar spent:

  • 22 cents goes to research, to fund nearly 1,000 researchers across Canada, whose work saves lives, prevents disability and improves health.
    • Projects are diverse, from developing groundbreaking new surgical techniques to treat stroke to the massive Canadian Resuscitation Outcomes project, aimed at improving how individuals and health systems can improve survival from cardiac arrest.
  • 36 cents goes to support advocacy and health promotion programs, including eTools such as the Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment, initiatives such as our Community of Survivors, created to support people living with heart disease or stroke, our FAST campaign to help Canadians recognize the signs of stroke and know what to do, and advocacy for important causes, including our Stop Marketing to Kids campaign (aimed at restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children), tobacco cessation, nutrition labeling and the placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places.

As for the rest of that dollar:

39 cents is invested in fundraising, allowing us to manage a wide range of programs, many of which deliver important heart health information or include heart-healthy activity for participants.

3 cents goes to administration, which includes support such as accounting and information technology for our operations across Canada.

No donor dollars are spent on the Foundation’s lottery operations.

Where can I find your annual report?

Download our latest Report to Donors in PDF format.

Find our detailed financial statements here.

We are also pleased to provide in-depth financial information. Click here to request information.

Frequently-asked questions

How do your numbers compare to the previous year?

Percentage of total spend:

These numbers show the result of careful management of our spending. Our goal is a steady increase in the funds available to support our mission while continuing to reach out to as many Canadians as possible and increase both awareness and donations.

Why do you spend so much on fundraising?

The Foundation’s spend on fundraising is watched closely by our management and board of directors. We strive to be efficient and effective with our donor dollars.

What this spend does not show is that many of our fundraising programs are intrinsically linked with providing health information and activities that can improve and extend the lives of Canadians.

Heart&Stroke Big Bike and Jump Rope for Heart, for example, are more costly to operate, but they are programs that enable us to engage participants in healthy activities and share health information and resources. As a grassroots organization, we are committed to these community-based fundraising and education activities.

Why should I donate to Heart & Stroke?

We measure our overall effectiveness by our ability to make a distinctive health impact over a long period. Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of hospitalization and the second and third leading causes of death in Canada. They are the biggest driver of prescription drug use and a leading cause of disability, costing the Canadian economy more than $20.9 billion every year. We are working hard to change these statistics and we need help from Canadians.

Here are examples of how we are spending your dollar to reduce the impact of these diseases.

  • Since Heart & Stroke was established in 1952, we have invested more than $1.45 billion in vital heart and stroke research, making us the largest contributor in Canada after the federal government. In that time, the death rate from heart disease and stroke has declined by more than 75 per cent. Our research grants have led to breakthroughs such as:
    • A revolutionary new treatment for the most common type of stroke with the promise of cutting death rates by as much as half and significantly reducing disability
    • One of the first heart transplant surgeries in Canada; and
    • Identification of the risk factors accounting for 90 per cent of all strokes and first heart attacks.
  • In 2015, we invested close to $31 million in life-saving research, funding more than 270 research grants and awards and nearly 1000 individual researchers from coast to coast who are tackling these diseases, their causes, treatments and recovery. Learn more here.
  • We committed $1.5 million over five years (matched by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research) to the Canadian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium (CanROC).
    • Cardiac arrest occurs every 13 minutes in Canada, yet fewer than 10 per cent of people survive a cardiac arrest when it occurs outside of a hospital.
    • CanROC will research ways to make ordinary Canadians more aware and more willing to perform CPR, study ways to improve emergency response, and investigate new resuscitation drugs, tools, and techniques, with an aim to increase the chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.
Advocacy and health promotion

In 2015 we invested more than $49 million in our advocacy and health promotion programs. Here are some highlights:

  • Prevent disease: Educating and empowering Canadians to live healthier lives
    • Heart & Stroke was the first Canadian organization to call for a daily limit on sugars added to foods and drinks. In 2015, we co-led along with the Childhood Obesity Foundation a coalition of influential national, provincial and regional groups with an interest in promoting nutrition and health to advocate to restrict all commercial marketing of foods and beverages to Canadian children, and were successful in making this an issue during the recent Federal election.
    • Through our free eTools, Heart & Stroke has helped to date close to 860,000 people assess/determine their risk for heart disease and stroke through our Risk Assessment, and has motivated more than 243,000 people manage their health with our 30day App, My Healthy Weight Action Plan and My Blood Pressure Action Plan.
    • Heart & Stroke began implementation of a 3-year Healthy Communities Initiative during the 2014-15 school year. Ten communities and their schools in rural Manitoba (Frontier division) were supported through a healthy community facilitator in making improvements to benefit children’s physical activity levels, mental wellness and academic performance.
  • Save lives: Helping make all Canadians ready, willing and able to respond to a cardiac emergency
    • As the leader in resuscitation science, HSF is the co-author of the guidelines for Emergency Cardiovascular Care and CPR in North America. In 2015, HSF released updated guidelines which were then adopted by every major training agency in Canada. The guidelines are updated every five years, and only when there is clear scientific evidence that the changes will improve chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.
    • Many of the recommendations refined the types of treatments provided by healthcare professionals, and several guidelines focused on the need and importance of lay-rescuers having the knowledge and confidence to do simplified CPR and use an AED.
    • Since introducing CPR to Canada in 1976, the Foundation has continued to work with partners each year to train everyday Canadians in the life-saving skills of basic CPR. HSF in 2015 trained more than 515,700 Canadians in CPR and/or First Aid. After three very successful years, HSF completed its Federal AED Program in 2015. Through the program, HSF increased public access to automated external defibrillators placing over 3,200 of these life-saving units in arenas and rinks across the country and training more than 25,000 Canadians in CPR and how to use an AED.
  • Save lives: Improving stroke response and treatment
  • Two separate but linked projects are making a major impact on how Canadians receive the best care in response to having a stroke:
    • In 2015, results from the ESCAPE clinical trial were released. Called ‘the most significant and fundamental change in 20 years’, this breakthrough research co-funded by HSF involved testing the use of a procedure called endovascular thrombectomy to treat major strokes caused by blood clots. The dramatic results show a 50 per cent decrease in death rate and a significant reduction in disability – and promise to change how stroke is treated around the world.
    • Also in 2015, HSF launched a new national public awareness campaign promoting the acronym FAST as a simple way to help Canadians recognize the signs of stroke and take action. Recognizing the signs of stroke and acting quickly can mean a better likelihood for survival and recovery – with little or no disability.

  • Promote recovery: Enhancing supports to help survivors and their families improve their quality of life and prevent further events
    • During 2015, Heart & Stroke met with more than 600 Canadians who have experienced heart disease, heart failure or stroke, and their care partners and families. We learned first hand about their experiences, barriers and challenges following their discharge from acute care – a time when they are more likely to feel ‘cut loose’ from the health care system. Overwhelmingly, they said emotional, social and practical support to help them connect with others who have gone through similar challenges is the most underserved gap in their experience.
    • Heart & Stroke’s Community of Survivors (an engaged network of people interested in improving their recovery) and our heart failure and stroke online information hubs were unveiled in 2015.
    • Heart & Stroke provides a range of free patient health information and resources. In 2015, we introduced Your Stroke Journey, a comprehensive guide that helps stroke survivors and their families understand the effects of stroke and manage their recovery process.

Heart & Stroke is a member of Imagine Canada.™ Imagine Canada sets the standards for charitable organizations in managing and reporting their financial affairs. As a member, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada follows Imagine Canada’s ethical guidelines as outlined at

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