Ethics and Canadian Charities

May 22, 2017

CRA welcomes the Panel Report on the public consultations on charities and political activities

In a press release entitled "Minister Lebouthillier welcomes the Panel Report on the public consultations on charities and political activities" CRA noted the receipt of a report on charities and political activities.  That report was reflective of the vast majority of the "nearly 20,000" submissions received as part of the consultation.   

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May 19, 2017

Charitable Receipting: Do’s and don’ts for Canadian registered charities with CharityVillage

On May 25, 2017, I will be doing a free webinar for CharityVillage on Charitable Receipting Do's and Don'ts which will discuss receipting by Canadian registered charities.

May 09, 2017

Presentation on community foundations and political activities in Ottawa - May 13, 2017

Mark Blumberg will be co-presenting on "How community foundations can lead and engage in small ‘a’ advocacy" in Ottawa at the Community Foundations of Canada 2017 Conference on Saturday May 13, 2017.

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May 08, 2017

“Second Thoughts: Why I Changed My Mind About Philanthropy and Public Policy” by David Callahan

David Callahan, is the editor of Inside Philanthropy, and he is one the top progressive experts on philanthropy in the US.  His article "Second Thoughts: Why I Changed My Mind About Philanthropy and Public Policy" has nothing to do with Canada - but it has everything to do with the dilemma that the Liberal government is going to be dealing with over the next year or two as to how much "political activities" is too much for charities.  I would argue that the current rules give lots and lots of room to charities to conduct political activities - but yes not enough for maybe 50-100 groups.   At what point do we prioritize the sector over those groups?  

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April 07, 2017

Wallace Global Fund charity fires lawyers for being inconsistent with their values

Here is an interesting article from the NPQ entitled "Wallace Global Fund Fires Law Firm for Aiding Trump’s “Ethical Carnage”. It discusses how a large US charity has decided to sever a long term relationship with a major US law firm because they represent Donald Trump and blessed the highly questionable trust arrangement that Donald Trump is using to ostensibly avoid conflicts of interest while he is President of the US.

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March 22, 2017

2017 Canadian Federal Budget and its impact on non-profits and charities

The 2017 Canadian Federal Budget was released today.  Here is our article 2017 Canadian Federal Budget - How will it affect the Canadian charitable sector? 

March 19, 2017

OHA Strengthening Foundation Governance: Current Issues, Challenges and Solutions

The Ontario Hospital Association is having a conference entitled "Strengthening Foundation Governance: Current Issues, Challenges and Solutions".  I will be presenting on Charitable Giving, Transparency and Standards. There will be a number of other interesting presentations.  

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March 19, 2017

“Charity finances: trustee essentials” - great information on financial management of a charity

The Charity Commission has recently updated  their guidance "Charity finances: trustee essentials".  It provides helpful information on finances that Canadian directors and trustees, as well as staff, should be aware of.  Keep in mind that on certain points the law in Canada is different than in England and Wales.  Unfortunately the CRA provides far less guidance on financial management and governance to the charity sector than I would like.  

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March 17, 2017

CRA sending out notices on T3010 filings

Here is a redacted copy of a notice sent by the Charities Directorate of CRA reminding charities of their filing date and the consequences of not filing the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return within 6 months of the end of your fiscal year.  

March 16, 2017

FTC & NASCO Conference on Consumer Protection Issues and Charitable Solicitations - online/free

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) are organizing a conference called "Give & Take: Consumers, Contributions, and Charity" on Tuesday March 21, 2017.   It will be in Washington but it will be live streamed for free for those who are interested.  The live link will be available on the day of the conference.  

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March 04, 2017

Charity Commission concerned that “poor due diligence and monitoring put charity assets at risk”

The Charity Commission of England and Wales recently released an Inquiry Report on a UK charity that identified concerns with fundraising and foreign activities.  There were a number of concerns raised but perhaps most interesting is the discussion around due diligence and internal controls, and specifically "receipts, invoices or other documentation to support the project expenditure".   

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January 30, 2017

Terrorist attack at mosque in Quebec City claims 6 lives

On Sunday January 29, 2017 there was a terrible tragedy in Quebec City. A right-wing terrorist massacred six people praying at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec and injured almost 20 others.  This is the worst terrorist attack in Canada in over 25 years.

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December 28, 2016

Ignorance isn’t bliss for large registered charities anymore as CRA focuses audits on them

CRA uses a risk based approach to deciding which charities are to be audited. CRA a few months ago announced they are adjusting their audit strategy to focus more on larger Canadian registered charities. I guess someone in the past might had thought that smaller organizations, many without any staff, might be less legally compliant and they should be focused on. I guess someone now at the Charities Directorate has worked out that larger organizations have a large amount of resources, generally a lot more complexity and are more likely to be non-compliant with the requirements of the Income Tax Act and such non-compliance could affect much larger amounts of resources.

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December 27, 2016

Imagine Canada’s The Ethical Code Program comes to an end on Dec 31,  2016

Imagine Canada has announced that their original "Ethical Code Program" is being merged with their new Standards Program. They are notifying charities that "The Program will remain open, and participants may continue to use the trustmark, until December 31, 2016. After that date, however, all references to the Ethical Code Program, including the trustmark, will need to be removed from your website."

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December 26, 2016

Which Canadian Private Foundations had the largest total expenditures in 2013-2015?

We recently reviewed the private foundations contained on the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return for 2013, 2014 and 2015.   We looked at who had the largest expenditures, what their total assets were and the percentage of total assets that were disbursed in that particular year.  Here are the results:

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December 21, 2016

Did charitable giving in Canada really hit a 10-year low?

I recently read a press release from a Canadian think tank that said “Charitable giving in Canada hits 10-year low”. They proposed “In total, Canadians claimed $9 billion in charitable donations in 2014. But had Canadians donated in 2014 at the same rate as in 2006, Canada's charities would have received an additional $3.6 billion, for a potential total of $12.6 billion."  They also noted that Americans gave 1.42 per cent of their income to charity in 2014 -- more than two-and-a-half times what Canadians gave.” I guess their main points were that Canadians are becoming less generous and Canadians are not as generous as Americans.  I have issues with the arguments and the methodology.

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December 16, 2016

Charities, Privacy and Screening Donors

Recently in the UK there were fines imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office on two prominent charities.  This raised the issue of charities and privacy of donor information.

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November 03, 2016

Mark Blumberg’s article “CRA consultation on political activities – to submit or not to submit?”

I recently wrote an article for Hilborn entitled "CRA consultation on political activities – to submit or not to submit?"  Here is the text of the article:

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November 02, 2016

An ICN Webinar – CRA Regulations and the Political Activities of Charities

I am pleased to be co-presenting to the ICN a webinar on "CRA Regulations and the Political Activities of Charities".

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October 26, 2016

CCLA Webinar to discuss the CRA’s new consultation on political activities with Mark Blumberg

As many know the CRA has launched a consultation on political activities by Canadian charities.  The Canadian Charity Law Association will be having Mark Blumberg present a webinar on the consultation and various ways of responding or not responding to it. The webinar will be on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 12:00PM EST.  You can register here for the webinar.  It is free but there is limited space.  

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October 26, 2016

UK Charity Commission finds misconduct by charity due to deficient safeguarding procedures

The UK Charity Commission has published a report regarding its inquiry into a registered charity (the Bristol Community Church Trust). The inquiry started in 2011 and related to sexual abuse allegations that were made against the charity's youth pastor and the inadequacy of the charity's internal safeguarding practices with respect to their response to these allegations.  

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October 17, 2016

The Foundation Payout Debate at Arnova in Washington

I am pleased to be on a panel at Arnova in Washington entitled "The Foundation Payout Debate: Comparative Perspectives on Distribution, Perpetuity and the Role of Foundations".

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October 08, 2016

A quick introduction to CharityData.ca from Mark Blumberg

Blumbergs has created a very interesting new website called CharityData.ca.   Here is a short video which provides an overview of this powerful tool with information on over 86,000 Canadian registered charities with up to 10 years historical information on each registered charity. This tool will be particularly important for donors, funders, journalists, volunteers, those staff responsible for financial management and regulators.

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October 04, 2016

Imagine Canada’s Sector Monitor on Political Activities by Canadian charities 2016

Imagine Canada has put out a very interesting report on a survey of Canadian charities and their answers relating to political activities.  The Sector Monitor report is prepared by David Lasby of Imagine Canada and is well worth reading.  One of the conclusions was "Likelihood of reporting negative effects increased with intensity of engagement in public policy. However, while negative effects are common, this does not appear to have resulted in decreased engagement in public policy."

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September 27, 2016

CRA launches consultation on political activities by Canadian registered charities

The CRA today launched its political activity consultation.  It reinforces the importance of charities being engaged in the political process. The CRA is looking for feedback on the rules and CRA's guidance.  People or organizations have until November 25, 2016 to provide comments.   We have provided a large amount of documents and analysis on the issue of charities and political activities in our political activities and Canadian charities directory.  

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Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.

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