Topics: News, What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law, Global Giving, Ethics and Canadian Charities, Avoiding 'Charity' Scams
CRA is putting out better notices on donating wisely. I particularly like this advice “Get to know the charity.” Start by visiting the charity’s website to learn about its activities and how it’s managed. You can also review its financial information and activities by looking at its information returns using the CRA’s Charity Quick View at http://www.cra.gc.ca/charitylists. One of the best ways to learn about a charity is to volunteer.”
Please note that they don’t suggest that if you want basic information about a charity and you want to donate $20 that you should call the charity and have an in-depth discussion as to whether they deserve your $20 donation. If you want charities to be efficient and effective don’t waste their time when the material should be easily available on their website.
I really like the last statement “One of the best ways to learn about a charity is to volunteer”. This has been my contention for a very long time. I realize it is not always practical for some. If you don’t want to volunteer try donating to a smaller group of charities larger amounts and then you can do your due diligence on each of the charities.
Also it is interesting that CRA says “start” by visiting the charity’s website. Then look at the T3010. If the organization is of a reasonable size and it does not have a website that describes its activities and has information on its governance structure my suggestion is, unless you happen to know the people intimately, take a pass and go to one of thousands of charities that do have fulsome websites and provide lots of transparency on their operations.
If you are interested in the issue of avoiding charity schemes and finding great charities you might want to see our microsite www.smartgiving.ca
Here is the CRA press release.
“Donate wisely this holiday season!
Did you know?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulates more than 86,000 registered charities in Canada. To make sure your donation goes to a legitimate charity, the CRA advises you to follow a few tips.
- Confirm that the organization is a Canadian registered charity.
Registered charities have to devote their resources to charitable activities and are monitored by the CRA. Only charities that are registered with the CRA can issue official donation receipts, which can be used by the donor to claim a charitable tax credit. To check if an organization is registered, go to the CRA Charities Listings at http://www.cra.gc.ca/charitylists or call the CRA at1-800-267-2384.
- Get to know the charity.
Start by visiting the charity’s website to learn about its activities and how it’s managed. You can also review its financial information and activities by looking at its information returns using the CRA’s Charity Quick View at http://www.cra.gc.ca/charitylists. One of the best ways to learn about a charity is to volunteer.
- Beware of gifting tax shelter schemes that promise you returns greater than your donation.
There are many risks associated with these donation schemes and, in many cases, less than 1% of the funds donated are used for charitable works. The CRA strongly advises that you not participate in gifting tax shelter schemes. As of the 2013 tax year, if the amounts you have donated to a gifting tax shelter are in dispute, you are now required by law to pay 50 per cent of the taxes you may owe.
- Learn to recognize the signs of fraud.
Signs of fraud could include inappropriate pressure to give immediately, individuals who demand cash only or ask that you write a cheque payable to them rather than the charity. In addition, fraudulent organizations sometimes use names that are similar to well-known and respected registered charities.
Learn more about donating wisely this holiday season. Visit www.cra.gc.ca/donors.”
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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.