FAQs

About Us FAQs

Projects FAQs

In The Classroom FAQs

Get Involved FAQs


About Us

What is the Ryan’s Well Foundation?

Ryan’s Well was founded by Ryan Hreljac and was registered as a non-profit in Ontario in 2001.

The Ryan’s Well Foundation is a family of people committed to delivering access to safe water as an essential way to improve the lives of people in the developing world. We empower citizens of all ages to take action and effect change in the world.

Here are some quick facts:

  • Completed 1,166 water projects and 1,245 latrines in 16 countries, bringing safe water and sanitation to 892,725 people.
  • Canadian registered charity (charitable registration # 88858 7110 RR0001)
  • On average, 80-85 cents of every dollar donated directly supports our charitable Build and Empower programs.
  • Small staff of 3 full-time and 2 part-time staff in Kemptville, Ontario.
  • Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors that meets quarterly.
  • Our fiscal year end is March 31st and our financial statements are audited annually by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • You can also find us on:

Back to top

Is the Ryan’s Well Foundation a registered charity?

Yes. Although Ryan started raising money for water projects in 1998, the Foundation was not formed until 2001. In Canada, the Ryan’s Well Foundation has operated as a not-for-profit organization in the Province of Ontario since 2001. The Foundation received federal tax exempt status as a registered charity in 2004.

You can visit the Canadian Review Agency’s Registered Charities to view our Registered Charity Information Return (T3010). Our Charitable Registration number is 88858 7110 RR0001.

Back to top

Who supports Ryan’s Well Foundation?

We are supported by many different people and organizations.  Many of our donations come from schools and young people who are so creative in their fundraising ideas. From coin drives, to bake sales, to water bottle sales, youth give us the motivation to do more. Our adult donors, individuals and corporations, donate generously to our activities.

Back to top

What are the administrative costs of the Ryan’s Well Foundation?

We focus on keeping our administrative costs as low as possible. Over the past five years, an average of 81 cents of every dollar donated directly supports our charitable BUILD (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and EMPOWER (education and youth engagement) programs. As we continue to examine ways to grow and diversify our revenue stream, we are deeply committed to ensuring that donations are directed towards our important mission of improving lives and effecting change in the world. Our small and efficient team is critical to keeping our overall fundraising cost at 8% and our average administration cost remains unchanged over the past 5 years at 11%.

The Foundation’s fiscal year runs from April 1st to March 31st. Our annual audit and financial statements are completed by the Firm of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, Ottawa, Ontario.

Back to top


Projects

How much does it cost to build a well?

There are many factors that determine the cost of a well and other types of water access such as protected springs or rainwater harvesting tanks. What country is the well in? Is it a deep or shallow well based on terrain and geology? How accessible is the well site? What community activities and training are taking place to support the well? Is there a latrine included? These are all the questions that impact the costs of our water and sanitation projects and are important factors in the sustainability of safe water sources. As a guideline, a shallow well in Uganda generally costs between $8,000 and $12,000 Canadian dollars. A deep well can cost $15,000 or more depending on the region. Costs include community mobilization, monitoring, training the Water Committee on managing/maintaining their water source, and hygiene education – all of which are essential for long-term sustainability of the well. Our Active Projects will give you a good idea of the current costs for our projects based on all these important factors for building sustainable water access.

Back to top

Can I travel to go and help build a well?

Ryan’s Well does not send volunteers or groups to help build wells. We are a small organization and do not have the capacity to manage travel for groups and do not have offices or on the ground staff in each country. Most importantly, our water and sanitation projects are implemented by local partner organizations (local non-governmental or community based organizations) in each country and region where the projects take place. Through collaboration with people locally, projects benefit from cultural insight and community participation which is a win-win situation when it comes to successful water and sanitation projects. This supports positive change in the area through capacity and skill building while providing the means for a community to manage and maintain their water and sanitation sources for the future.

Back to top

In what countries has Ryan helped to build wells?

To date, Ryan and his Foundation have supported water and sanitation projects in 16 countries and we are currently focusing our efforts and resources in three primary regions: (1) East Africa – Uganda, Kenya (2) West Africa – Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso (3) Central/South America – Haiti. Ryan’s Well has also supported projects in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guyana, Nigeria, India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Lesotho.

Back to top

How are the local communities involved in water and sanitation projects?

Local people take on the responsibility of organizing, educating, building, and overseeing water projects from start to finish. This builds their capacity as a community to better govern themselves. For any project to be sustainable, the community must take ownership and control. All people participating in Ryan’s Well water and sanitation projects come from the community where the project is taking place. Ryan’s Well and our local partners provide guidance and support in the initial stages of the projects and then establishes an arrangement, which sees the responsibility being absorbed by the local community with follow-up monitoring and evaluation taking place.

Back to top

May I direct my donation towards a specific project?

We encourage you to make your gift to where funds are needed most so that we may focus your donation on the areas of greatest need. If you prefer to direct your donation, please learn more about our Featured Project. Contributions of $5,000 and more may be designated to other Active Projects. Please contact us by email or call 1-613-258-6832.

Back to top

How does the Ryan’s Well Foundation choose the projects it supports?

Ryan’s Well has established a network of local partners throughout the countries where we work. We accept project proposals on an ongoing basis from these non-governmental and community based organizations. Our Project Committee reviews all proposals and then make their recommendations to our Board of Directors for approval. We continue to build slowly and carefully to make sure we are providing what communities need and can sustain for the future. Ryan’s Well Foundation believes in local ownership and community participation, which is a win/win situation when it comes to successful water and sanitation projects. Our staff and volunteer Board Members work with our partners daily from Canada and travel to each project throughout the year to monitor and evaluate the work on the ground.

Back to top

What are the different types of water access that Ryan’s Well supports and how do you choose which one to build?

The types of water access most often supported by Ryan’s Well are drilled wells (also called boreholes or tubewells), rainwater harvesting tanks and protected springs. Many factors are considered when deciding what type of water access point should be built including climate, terrain, depth of the groundwater table in both rainy and dry seasons, cost of bringing in building materials and equipment and community culture. Our expert partners in each country and region can assess what type of water access is sustainable, desired by the communities and most suitable for the area given its geographical factors.

Back to top

How long does it take to complete a water project?

There are many factors which can impact the time needed to complete a water project. It is not always an easy question to answer given that it can vary by location, by season and by scale of the work being done. In general, a project of multiple sites can take between 6 and 12 months to complete. In some instances they can take longer due to issues such as in accessible road conditions in the rainy seasons, instability in the country or complications in acquiring materials.

Back to top

I know of a school or village in need of a well. Can Ryan’s Well build a well there?

With almost 1 billion people across the globe in need of access to clean water, there are many regions and areas needing wells. In order to work most efficiently and sustainably within our capacity, Ryan’s Well works with local partner organizations in each country and region. These partners know the region and can work with the communities, assess the most suitable type of water access and ensure a comprehensive plan is in place to mobilize the community and build a well. It is up to our local partners in each region to identify sites based on these activities for sustainability. Unfortunately, we are not able to build a well at a specific site based on an individual request for a place you have visited or know of through friends and family. We certainly understand the great need however our experience has indicated that it is not the most sustainable way to utilize the donations that we gratefully receive. We encourage you to look at our Active Projects to see the areas where we are currently working and are in need of your support.

Back to top


In the Classroom

Can Ryan or a Ryan’s Well representative come to our school or event?

As the Community Engagement Coordinator, Ryan tries to attend as many speaking engagements as possible.  While we try to send Ryan or a representative of the Foundation upon request, it is not always feasible based on distance and staff availability.  In you are interested in booking an appearance request with Ryan or another staff or board member, please let us know! Remember, Skype is a helpful alternative to any appearance request. Be sure to indicate whether you’d be willing to connect online!

Back to top

Can you set up a pen pal program with students from the project area we are fundraiser for?

Due to challenges with mailing and administration, Ryan’s Well is not able to facilitate a pen pal program.

Back to top

For the School Challenge, who signs the pledge and what if we don’t reach our goal?

A pledge towards the School Challenge can be made by any school, individual class, club or team.  It does not have to be an entire school.

Back to top

Your goal is a target. Ideally everyone would reach their fundraising targets but it doesn’t always happen.  Whatever your group raises is important and will make a difference. If we have a funding deficit, Ryan’s Well will cover it through alternate funding sources.  If we are fortunate enough to have a surplus of funds, they will be directed to other Active Projects where the funds are needed most.

Back to top

For the School Challenge, some of our donors would like tax receipts – what do we do?

In order to issue tax receipts to individual donors, we must receive personal cheques or online credit card donations to Ryan’s Well Foundation from Canadian sources. Donations from outside of Canada are not eligible for a Canadian charitable tax receipts.  In general, proceeds from events where items are sold such as bake sales or tickets, are not receiptable under Canadian Revenue Agency guidelines. Only direct donations over $10 can receive a Canadian charitable tax receipt.

Back to top


Get Involved

How do I make a donation to the Ryan’s Well Foundation?

There are many ways to make a donation:

  • Online through our secure website using MasterCard or Visa
  • Donating by mail with a cheque, money order or credit card information
  • Donating by phone (613.258.6832) using a credit card
  • Donating by wire transfer, please contact us by email or by phone (613.258.6832).
  • See a complete list of and instructions on additional ways to give!

Currently, cards with debit/credit inter-changeability are not accepted for online donations. To help keep administrative costs to a minimum, online donations must be greater than or equal to $10.

Back to top

Does the Ryan’s Well Foundation issue tax receipts?

Yes. Canadians will receive a charitable tax receipt on donations of $10 or more. If you make an online donation you will receive an electronic tax receipt. If you make an online donation through CanadaHelps , CanadaHelps will issue your tax receipt. Canadian donors can calculate the benefit of their donation using Canada Revenue Agency’s tax credit estimator. If you make a donation through the Tides Foundation, Tides USA will issue your tax receipt.

Back to top

If I live in the United States, how can I make a donation?

If you are donating from the United States and DO NOT require your contribution to be tax deductible, then donations can be made directly to Ryan’s Well. If you are donating from the United States and want your donation to be tax deductible, you can donate to Ryan’s Well Foundation through the Tides Foundation.

The Tides Foundation is a registered public charity under sections 501(c) (3) and 509(a) (1) of the US Internal Revenue Code and accepts donations through their Global Support Fund. When donating through the Tides Foundation, a receipt will be automatically issued for donations of more than $250.00. For donations under $250.00 please keep your cancelled check as a receipt. Please make your check or money order payable to: TIDES Foundation – Ryan’s Well Foundation and send it by mail to: Tides Foundation P.O. Box 29903 San Francisco, CA 94129

Back to top

I live in neither Canada nor the USA, how can I make a donation?

You can donate using your credit card through our secure website, over the phone, or by mail using your credit card information. Unfortunately we are unable to accept cheques from several countries. Due to some amendments in the International Bank clearing process, the collection of some cheques, Australia for example, now have to be done manually through the banking systems and there is a substantial fee associated with this process. In order to avoid these charges, we ask that you donate online by credit card or by sending an international money order in either Canadian or US funds payable to the “Ryan’s Well Foundation.” We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your support.

Back to top

I would like to donate in memory of a family member. How do I go about doing this?

Memorial donations provide you with the opportunity to send a special print or electronic card to let the family know that a donation has been made in their memory. You can choose to make your donation online or you can call our office at 613.258.6832.

Back to top

I would like to donate in honour of a special occasion (friend’s birthday, wedding, anniversary). How do I go about doing this?

We accept and encourage tribute donations in honour of birthdays, anniversaries, holiday giving and other special occasions. A special tribute card will be sent out by mail or by email to your gift recipient to let them know that a donation has been made in their honour. You can choose to make your donation online or you can call our office at 613.258.6832.

Back to top

May I direct my donation towards a specific project?

We encourage you to make your gift to where funds are needed most so that we may focus your donation on the areas of greatest need. If you prefer to direct your donation, please learn more about our Featured Project. Contributions of $5,000 and more may be designated to other Active Projects. Please contact us by email or call 1.613.258.6832.

Back to top

Can I be recognized as a donor towards a specific well or water project?

We will recognize project-specific donations of $5,000 or more from corporations, schools, faith-based and community groups. If you would like your name acknowledged on our website for a memorial or tribute donation of $5,000 or more for a specific project, please contact us by email or call 1.613.258.6832. We do not include names or plaques on the wells where they are built. Local communities take much pride in the naming of their community well and this pride of ownership helps to ensure the well is properly managed and maintained for years to come.

Back to top

Does the Ryan’s Well Foundation trade, sell or rent donor information?

No, the Foundation does not exchange donor information in any way, shape or form. We value the support of our donors and do not believe in providing this information to others.

Back to top


Since 2001, Ryan’s Well has had the financial support of many private donors, foundations, and corporate organizations. These ongoing contributions not only support our project and empowerment work, but also covers the basic costs that it takes to run an organization such as staff salaries, rent and office supplies.