July 07, 2007
I have been intrigued by the issue of how many Canadian charities operate abroad. We are living in a world of greater globalization and anecdotally it would seem that Canadian charities are increasingly carrying on activities outside of Canada.
A few months ago I requested from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) detailed statistics on how many charities operate outside of Canada and how much they spend outside of Canada. Below is my summary of the results:
The latest full year of statistics is for 2004. In that year 78,893 charities filed their T3010A Registered Charity Information Return. Of those charities, 11,969 Canadian registered charities carry on programs, directly or indirectly, outside of Canada in for the fiscal 2004 year. This reflects approximately 15.17% of the 78,893 Canadian registered charities that filed their T3010A in 2004. These charities spent approximately $1.8 billion dollars on programs outside of Canada in 2004 a significant rise from $1.4 billion in 2002.
TOP 20 CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL CHARITIES BY SPENDING
These are the 20 Registered Canadian Charities with the greatest total expenditures on programs outside of Canada during the fiscal period covered by the 2004 T3010.
For those who are curious here is a list of Top Canadian International Charities by spending outside of Canada 2004. It has 204 names on the list.
We will be providing further statistical information in the future including how many charities operate in each country. Check back for further information.
There are a number of problems in dealing with the information from the T3010A Registered Charity Information Return.
1) Although an important legal document, it is often filled out by volunteers or others who have little understanding of the nuances of the Income Tax Act, may have limited language skills and, in some cases, may not have easy access to the correct information.
2) In question C5 dealing with the list of countries or regions where programs were carried out the form provides only ten boxes. Clearly some charities conduct operation in more than 10 countries or regions.
3) The fact that a charity is allowed to list regions, in addition to or instead of specific countries, will always undercut the accuracy of the statistics on countries.
4) If one carefully reads the list of regions and countries one will find that there are all sorts of inaccuracies either on the T3010 that was filed or on CRA’s inputting of the information.
5) The list that I was provided by CRA is in both French and English and I have translated it into English in order to better aggregate the information.
6) As pointed out by one organization there spending abroad was 12 million and not 1.2 million as provided by CRA. It is a good argument for the T3010’s to be filed electronically - it would reduce the workload on CRA and perhaps reduce some of the inputting errors.
The most recent other statistics I have seen on Canadian charities operating abroad were provided in 2004 by the CRA in Newsletter #20 with respect to the 2002 fiscal year end.
CRA advised that then 11,993 charities reported working outside of Canada and therefore “15% of charities reported carrying on programs outside Canada.” Of these charities, 35.8% reported that they carried on their own programs outside Canada, and that these expenditures exceeded $1.4 billion in 2002.
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.