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CRA Documents and Cases involving Canadian Charities Operating Abroad and International Development

The Canada Revenue Agency has hundreds of forms and documents that are relevant to Canadian charities operating outside of Canada on their website. Some people find the website confusing or overwhelming. The documents below are the ones most frequently accessed by Canadian registered charities that are provided by the CRA and that are relevant to Canadian Charities Operating Abroad and Canadian charities conducting International Development Activities.

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CRA Fundraising Consultation - One giant leap forward in guidance for Canadian registered charities

In April 2008, CRA released a Consultation on proposed policy regarding fundraising by Registered Charities (RC4456-e) (“Fundraising Consultation”).  This document is a relatively short six page overview, and CRA has recently provided charities with a more detailed document entitled “Background information for proposed policy on fundraising by Registered Charities” which is 29 pages (“Background Document”).  The background document provides greater detail, further definitions of terminology and CRA’s positions on various points.  In this article I will discuss the content of the Fundraising Consultation and Background Document, discuss and analyze the criticisms from others of these documents, and provide my own comments.

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CRA Releases Consultation on Proposed Policy on Fundraising by Registered Charities

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CRA releases its Guidance on “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”

CRA has released its guidance “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”.  Any Canadian charity dealing with human rights issues will want to read this document.

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CRA revocation letter to the Corban Foundation on forgivable loan program

Here is an interesting series of letters from CRA to the Corban Foundation in the 1990s relating its revocation as a registered charity.  It deals with the meaning of a gift,  and various programs to provide tuition assistance to those attending Christian schools.  It provides CRA’s views on the legal arguments and cases.

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CRA Top Ten Compliance Issues by Terry de March, Director General, Charities Directorate

This excellent slide presentation by Terry de March of the Canada Revenue Agency, Charities Directorate, highlights the most important compliance problems for registered Canadian face. Many charities could avoid problems by reading this article and ensuring compliance with the issues raised.

CRA’s Consultation on Foreign Activities: What is New with Canadian Charities + Foreign Activities

In this article “CRA’s Consultation on Foreign Activities: What is New and Interesting with Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities” I discuss what is new in the draft consultation.

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Enhancing the ONCA Transition for registered charities by reducing redundant charity review

In this submission to the Ontario Government, Mark Blumberg argues that Canadian registered charities that are Ontario corporations should not have to undergo essentially redundant regulatory review by the PGT when they make changes to their objects or move over to ONCA.  

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Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems

Here is a copy of my presentation to the Canadian Association of Paralegals on Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems.

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Ethical Tourism may be laudable but not charitable according to the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal

In the Travel Just case CRA had refused to register an organizations whose objects were very broad.  The Federal Court of Appeal agreed with CRA.  [Subsequently the Supreme Court of Canada refused an application for leave to appeal.]

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Foreign Charities Operating in and from Canada

In this article I discuss various options for non-Canadian non-profits and charities interested in fundraising or operating in Canada.

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Foreign Universities Fundraising in Canada

There are many options for foreign universities who are interested in fundraising in Canada and I have discussed 6 different options. It is time to think of your alma mater or your parent’s alma mater and how Canadians can support these universities.

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Global Philanthropy is Growing in Canada as World Shrinks

Here is a copy of my recent article Global Philanthropy Growing as World Shrinks which appeared in the CAGP Toronto 2008 Supplement Your Guide To Giving Back. 

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Global Philanthropy is growing in Canada, but remittances and investment rule

In this article I discuss the importance of remittances by Canadian residents to foreign countries. Canada is the third largest country in terms of remittances at $6.3 billion, after the US at $61B and the UK at $6.6B. The impact of these flows of funds can be substantial and the charitable sector should consider encouraging those who remit to donate to charities instead so that the funds can have a broad public purpose and be efficiently spent on long-term goals such as education.

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Governance Changes and responding to the New Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)

Confused about the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)?  In this article we have summarized some things that non-profits and charities should consider.

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How accurate are the T3010 charity returns when it comes to political activities?

Canadian registered charities must file the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return within six months of the end of their fiscal year, although some are not able to meet that deadline and file soon thereafter.  It is a very important form because despite its limitations it is really the only uniform way to obtain information on all registered charities in Canada.  Some people are surprised to find out that answers on the T3010 are not always reliable.  I am going to make a few comments on the reliability of the T3010 and specifically with respect to questions relating to “political activities”.

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How Can Canadian Charity Obtain Cost-Effective Legal Services from a lawyer?

This article discusses how Canadian charities can obtain legal services in a way that will not break the bank.  This is a big problem.  According to the T3010 statistics a majority of charities spend zero on professional services which services include legal and accounting services.  This is far from desirable if one thinks that accountability, transparency, good governance and compliance with the laws are important.

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How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead - an article by Mark Blumberg

Canadians are increasingly asking “How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead?”  Is this the right question?
Here is my June 2010 article on the subject which was just published in the Canadian Donor’s Guide: view PDF

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Imagine Canada’s new Ethics Code: Imagining a more ethical sector

Imagine has revised its Code of Ethics (or Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code) and in this article I review the changes and provide a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the Imagine Canada’s Code of Ethics.

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Informal Legal Audits of Canadian Charities and their Foreign Operations

The Globe & Mail article I referred to above on Canadian disaster relief charities not complying with the rules provides one of many illustrations of the importance of Canadian charities understanding and complying with CRA guidelines on Canadian charities operating outside of Canada. If you make it through this giving season with your fingers crossed and without any scrutiny then consider in the new year having a informal legal audit of your foreign activities. It is the best gift you can give to your charitable loved one!

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Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity? - my Charity Village article

Here is an article I wrote for Charity Village entitled “Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity?”

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Is your Band or Aboriginal group affected by recent CRA Charities Directorate Changes?

Many Aboriginal groups or bands either currently receive or could receive funding from Canadian charities and foundations. Some of these Aboriginal groups who are receiving funding do so on account of their special status of being a “municipal or public body performing a function of government in Canada”. There are important changes that will affect over a thousand Aboriginal groups in Canada receiving funding or donations from Canadian charities or individuals. Many of the groups may need to make an application to CRA in order to preserve their ability to issue official donation receipts and accept gifts under the Income Tax Act (Canada)

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Largest Canadian Registered Charities by Employment Compensation

About 2.7 million Canadians work for Canadian registered charities. They earn approximately $122 billion per year.  This article takes data from the CRA's T3010 Registered Charity Information Return and shows the charities that spend the most on employment compensation.  

Topics: Featured

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Legal Issues for Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities and International Development

Here is a copy of a presentation I recently delivered to a number of Canadian charities in Ottawa entitled Legal Issues for Canadian Charities Conducting Foreign Activities and International Development

List of Foreign Countries and the Canadian Charities that operate in those countries (2005)

In these files we list every country and the individual Canadian charities that operate in those countries according to the 2005 T3010 information.  By providing this information charities and donors will be aware of which organizations operate in each country.  This will assist charities interested in beginning a new operation to identify a source of information on a particular country or perhaps to partner with that Canadian charity instead of going it alone.  Although the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) has a good map on its website (http://www.ccic.ca/) with information on which countries each of its members operate in, the map only covers their 100 or so members and not the 12,000 or so other organizations that operate outside of Canada.

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Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

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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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