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 promoting health, saving lives and enhancing recovery. Together we are funding medical breakthroughs that tangibly improve the health of people in Canada.

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 2020.

How does Heart & Stroke spend my money?

    F21 percentage of total spend bar graph

Of every dollar spent 55.3 cents goes to our mission.

Here’s how that breaks down:

  • 21.3 cents goes to research, to fund more than 818 researchers across Canada, whose work advances science and informs actions that save lives, prevent disability and improve the health of people in Canada. In 2020 this amounted to $21.8 million to research.
    • Projects are diverse, from groundbreaking research on the genetic variants associated with heart attacks early in life; to pioneering discoveries on cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), the second most common cause of stroke for women during pregnancy; to the first study in Canada to investigate the link between covert strokes and dementia — a key first step to developing prevention strategies and treatments for this condition.
  • 34.0 cents goes to support advocacy and health promotion programs. In 2020 this amounted to $34.6 million. 
    • Advocacy priorities in 2020 included efforts leading to federal and provincial measures to curb the vaping crisis among youth; getting a commitment from the Manitoba government to build the province’s first acute stroke unit, and advocating for the development and implementation of an equitable and universal pharmacare program. See more details here.

    • Health promotion achievements in 2020 included keeping kids active through our HeartSmart Kids curriculum resources; growing our Community of Survivors and Care Supporters Community online groups for people living with heart disease and stroke, leading Canadian Stroke Best Practices and resuscitation education (CPR training) across Canada. See more details here

As for the rest of that dollar:

  • 40.5 cents is invested in fundraising, allowing us to manage a wide range of programs, many of which deliver critical health information or include healthy activities for participants such as Jump Rope for Heart and Ride for Heart. 
  • 4.2 cents goes to administration, including accounting and information technology for our operations across Canada. 
  • No donor dollars are spent on Heart & Stroke lottery operations. 
How do these numbers compare to the previous year
 F20 percentage of total spend bar graph compared to F19

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

In 2020, like many charities, our fundraising efforts were impacted by the pandemic, resulting in revenue losses that required business adjustments to ensure funds were available to support our mission.

How much impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your financial outlook?

The pandemic had a significant effect on the way Heart & Stroke operates its business, but our focus on innovating, collaboration and partnerships ensures we have maintained a strong fiscal standing, positioning us well for the future.  

The most significant revenue impact occurred in the spring of 2020, when, following important public health restrictions, many Heart & Stroke events were cancelled, postponed or moved to a virtual platform. And though we were able to quickly pivot many programs to virtual platforms which allowed us to continue fundraising, the results did not match what would have been generated by our community programs had we been able to hold in-person events. 

Why do you spend donations on fundraising?

Heart & Stroke’s spend on fundraising is watched closely by our management and board of directors and we strive to be efficient. 

What the numbers don’t 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. Ride for Heart 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 such as the benefits of active lifestyles, and resources like the signs of stroke or signs of heart attack. 

COVID-19 resulted in a unique set of circumstances that caused us to move events to digital platforms. Yet a large portion of event costs were already committed. So we incurred the expenditure, without the ability to fundraise as we have in previous years.  

Why should I donate to Heart & Stroke?

Heart & Stroke’s critical priority is to invest in life-saving research that leads to medical breakthroughs. Heart disease, stroke and vascular cognitive impairment take one life every five minutes in Canada.  

We are one of Canada’s largest and most effective health charities, and we measure our overall effectiveness by our ability to drive change in priority areas related to new knowledge and innovation, health policies, health systems, and support programs for people at risk of or living with our conditions. 

These societal changes ultimately make a distinctive health impact over a long period. Since inception, Heart & Stroke has invested more than $1.6 billion  in heart and stroke research, making us the largest contributor in Canada after the federal government. The death rate from heart disease and stroke has declined by more than 75%. Our programs across the country are saving lives every day. 

Together, heart disease and stroke are the second leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in Canada. Along with vascular cognitive impairment, these conditions cost the Canadian economy more than $24.8 billion every year. We are working hard to change these statistics and we need help from the people of Canada. 

Can you give me detailed examples of how my money was used in 2020?

Find our latest results here.

Where can I find more in-depth financial information?

Find our detailed financial statements here.
If you still have questions, please click here to request information

Join our groups

Explore more information and support for Donors