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About the Donner Awards


The Donner Awards Program was Canada's largest and most prestigious non-profit recognition program. It had three main goals:

  1. To recognize and reward excellence in social service provision by Canadian non-profit organizations.
  2. To assist non-profits in their pursuit of excellence by providing them with important performance information.
  3. To raise public awareness about their important contribution to Canadian civil society.

The Donner Awards Program served to encourage the spirit of initiative and independence, and represented an important step forward in the development of an objective, quantifiable system for measuring non-profit performance.


A total of $60,000 was available to be won. Seven awards, valued at $5,000 each, were presented in the following categories:

  1. Counselling Services / Crisis Intervention
  2. Education
  3. Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse
  4. Provision of Basic Necessities
  5. Services for Children
  6. Services for People with Disabilities
  7. Services for Seniors 

The prestigious William H. Donner Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Social Services, valued at $20,000, was presented to the organization that exhibited the highest level of excellence among the category award recipients in its delivery of social services. 

In addition, the $5,000 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Management, launched in 2004, was presented to a non-profit organization whose consistent record of excellence and innovation in management and service delivery reflected the philosophy of Peter F. Drucker, the founding father of the study of modern management.


The Donner Awards Program helped Canadians make wise giving decisions by establishing clear and objective criteria for measuring the performance of non-profits relative to their peers. Finalists were permitted to use the Donner Awards Program logo to communicate to donors, members, and volunteers that their organization has demonstrated excellence in non-profit management and social service delivery.


The Fraser Institute administered the awards program on behalf of the Donner Canadian Foundation. William H. Donner established the Donner Canadian Foundation in 1950. It is now one of Canada's largest, and oldest, private foundations dedicated to supporting projects that emphasize self-reliance, individual initiative and independence.

The Fraser Institute developed the evaluation protocol in 1997 with input from the Canadian Cancer Society (BC & Yukon Division), the Trillium Foundation, and Family Services Canada.

The first annual awards were launched in 1998. By rewarding excellence, and encouraging best practices and greater accountability, the long-term goal of the Donner Awards Program was to increase public confidence and support for Canada's non-profit sector.


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The Donner Awards are a program of The Fraser Institute