Canadian Charity Law

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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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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

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List of Ontario Non-Profit Corporations finally revealed for the first time

Here is a list of the Ontario non-profit corporations under the Ontario Corporations Act.  There are 59,605 Ontario corporations on the list.  The list is 1084 pages long.  Some of the Ontario corporations are active and some are inactive.  We think that it is important for organizations to be able to have a public list so that they can easily determine whether or not they are an Ontario corporation.  If you are interested in updates about the new Ontario non-profit corporations act ("ONCA") check out our ONCA and CNCA directory.   

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Lobbying and Canadian Non-Profits and Charities: To register or not to register

On July 2, 2008 the Lobbying Act came into force and many non-profits and charities are completely unaware of its existence or its effect on their activities.  Lobbying is defined broadly under s. 7 of the Lobbying Act and includes the development of any legislative proposal by the Federal Government, or lobbying on the passage, defeat or amendment of any bill or resolution, advocating for amendments to any regulation, “the development or amendment of any policy or program of the Government of Canada”, or “the awarding of any grant, contribution or other financial benefit by or on behalf of Her Majesty in right of Canada”. Canadian non-profits and charities that do political advocacy or lobbying with the federal government need to consider whether their activities fall within the requirement to register under the Lobbying Act.  This article may be helpful in understanding whether a charity or non-profit must register.

Lobbying and Canadian Charities: To register or not to register

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Managing Risk with Volunteers in Canadian Charities

32 ideas for managing risk with volunteers. Volunteers are very important for many charities.  However, one should manage the risks associated with volunteers and here are some thoughts.  

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Mergers and Amalgamations within the Canadian Non-Profit and Charity Sector - The Philanthropist

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Model Contractor Agreement for a Canadian Registered Charity Carrying Out Foreign Activities

Here is a sample contractor agreement for a Canadian registered charity conducting foreign activities I prepared it for the Capacity Builders Charity Law Information Program (CLIP) in order to assist charities with understanding what such an agreement could look like.

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New Guidance for Canadian Registered Charities Carrying out Foreign Activities

CRA has just released a new guidance called “Canadian Registered Charities Carrying out Activities Outside Canada”.    Although the name indicates “foreign activities” this document deals with a lot more than foreign activities.  It covers the relationship between a Canadian charity and any non-qualified donee, whether in Canada or abroad.  If a Canadian charity has dealing with, for example, a non-profit that does not have charitable status then the same rules apply as a Canadian charity dealing with a foreign entity.  Essentially, almost all organizations outside of Canada are non-qualified donees.  If you are going to transfer resources to them you need to maintain “direction and control” over those resources.  This document helps a Canadian charity understand what is required for direction and control. Failure to maintain direction and control can result in a 105% penalty of the amount transferred and/or revocation of charitable status.

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Offshore Tax Havens, Harmful Tax Competition and International Development

Offshore tax havens are very detrimental to the Canadian tax base and under cut our social programs.  However, the effect of offshore tax havens on the developing world is far more devastating.  I was reading a very good article by Peter Gillespie of the Canadian charity Inter Pares called “Going Offshore”.  It reminded me that a long time ago I wrote a paper on offshore tax havens (THE OECD’S REPORT ON HARMFUL TAX COMPETITION: Is ‘Harmful Tax Competition’ Actually Harmful?) in which I look at the defenders of tax havens and apologists for the wealthy not paying their fair share and refute the arguments that they make. 

If you are interested in understanding the international development issues relating to tax havens and tax avoidance there is The Tax Justice Network (TJN) which is an international, non-aligned coalition of researchers and activists with a shared concern about the harmful impacts of tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens. They have a website at:

Ontario Corporations Don’t Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing to Federal Jurisdiction

It looks like ONCA may not even come into force until mid-2016 and perhaps 2017.  It is difficult to know what will happen but the microfiche based record system for Ontario corporations and very outdated technology that Ontario currently uses will likely make the transition challenging. There are 59,000 Ontario non-profit corporation listed on the Ontario government database.   If even 30,000 are active and need to make changes I am not confident that the Ontario system is going to work well.  The easy and quick solution for many Ontario corporations that are not interested in waiting any longer is to move to the Federal CNCA. Skip the line up and anxiety of ONCA and move to the CNCA.   Here is an article our firm wrote on the subject entitled "Ontario Corporations Don't Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing from the OCA to Federal Jurisdiction" for the Ontario Bar Association.  

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Ontario Corporations Don’t Need to Wait for the ONCA - Continuing from the OCA to the Federal CNCA

For many Ontario non-profit corporations under the Ontario Corporations Act (OCA) who don't want to wait for the ONCA, which may or may not come into force in 2016, or want to carry out governance changes now, a continuance from Ontario to Federal jurisdiction may be an appealing option.  

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Planned Giving and Professional Advisors - The Why and How to Involve Professional Advisors

In this article I discuss the importance of Canadian charities involving professional advisors in their planned giving efforts.

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Planned Giving in a Global World - CAGP Annual Conference April 2008

Planned Giving in a Global World is my presentation at the CAGP national convention about Planned Giving by Canadian charities for projects outside of Canada. The description of the presentation was “In this session, we will discuss basic information that a planned giving officer needs to know to allow for planned gifts in support of charitable activities outside of Canada. Topics will include the legal requirements and restrictions for Canadian charities operating abroad; examples of charities losing their status for non-compliance with CRA requirements; different organizational models for charities operating abroad; common mistakes and concerns with charities operating outside of Canada; and an overview of recent developments and flexibility in charities operating abroad.”

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Political Activities and Canadian Charities: Keeping room temperature in a chilly environment

Since 2012 there has been greater scrutiny of Canadian charities and their political activities. The Canadian government has allocated over $13 million to improve transparency, educate charities and to conduct approximately 60 audits on political activities. CRA recently noted that all 60 organizations have either been audited, are in the midst of an audit or have been selected for audit under the program. Some would argue that such increased scrutiny has resulted in a “chill”, although fundamentally the rules have not changed and Canadian charities are conducting significant political activities.  This article discusses the rules for Canadian charities conducting political activities.   

Requirements for Canadian Federal Non-profit Corporations that do NOT have charitable status

Canadian non-profits that do NOT have charitable status have their own legal requirements, which are different from those of registered charities.  Such non-profits generally have greater flexibility in terms of activities, however, they do not have some of the advantages of registered charity status, such as the ability to issue tax receipts.

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Selecting Great Charities – only tough if your eyes are open

Here is a link to a short article on "Selecting Great Charities – only tough if your eyes are open" which recently appeared on the CanadaHelps website.  

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Should We Establish another Canadian Charity? Or Does Canada have too many charities?

In this article I discuss the issue of whether Canada has too many charities or too few.  If one still wants to create a charity, some of the considerations and practical details of how one does establish a Canadian registered charity.

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So how much do Canadian charities receive from foreign sources according to the T3010 Returns?

There has been a little political firestorm last week over US foundations funding of certain Canadian environmental charities.  So how much revenue actually comes to Canada from foreign countries including the US?  The answer seems to be about $831 million.  That is from Line 4575 “Total revenue received from all sources outside Canada”.  If you are interested in who got what then read on.

Here is my note of the top registered charity recipients of Total revenue received from all sources outside Canada.

Just to provide some perspective Canadian charities had revenue of over $192 billion dollars and spent about $2.6 billion outside of Canada every year.

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Starting a Basic Planned Giving Program for a Canadian Charity -  A Lawyer’s Perspective

In this article I provide some suggestions to charities in Canada as to how they can easily start a planned giving program for their charity.

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Structured Arrangement versus Conduit for Canadian Charities and Foreign Activities

This article discusses the difference between an acceptable intermediary relationship between a Canadian charity and a foreign charity or NGO (a structured arrangement) and an unacceptable arrangement such as a conduit.

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Structures for Social Enterprise presentation to the Schulich School of Business

Presentation to the Schulich School of Business, York University on Structures for Social Enterprise

I enjoyed giving a presentation tonight to an MBA class at Schulich School of Business at York University on Structures for Social Enterprise.  Great students and lots of questions.

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T3010 - Article on the importance of Canadian charities filing their T3010 annual form

Most Canadian charities that lose their registered charity status have lost it for one reason - that is non-filing of the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return.

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T3010 - Canadian Charities - Please File your T3010 on time!

This article discusses the T3010 and the importance of filing it accurately and on time.

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Taxpayers’ Ombudsman releases major report “Donor Beware” on charity gifting tax shelter schemes

I was delighted to read a publication "Donor Beware: Investigation into the sufficiency of the Canada Revenue Agency's warnings about questionable tax shelter schemes".  The special report was prepared in December 2013 by J. Paul Dubé, the Taxpayers' Ombudsman.  The 39 page report rips into charitable gifting tax shelters.  Although it is generally very positive about the work of CRA in trying to educate taxpayers and denying the tax credits it does make some recommendations for CRA to increase educational efforts to donors on the dangers of these schemes.  I was quite pleasantly surprised that there were a number of references to articles I have written or websites that I edit.

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Ten Most Useful Features of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate Website

The title is self-explanatory.  CRA’s website is a valuable resource for anyone involved with charities.  As a charity lawyer I am at the website daily and encourage others to make use of the material and information. Here are my thoughts on the Ten Most Useful Features of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate Website

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


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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