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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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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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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.   

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Receipting Kit for Canadian Registered Charities by Mark Blumberg

Here is a Receipting Kit for Canadian Registered Charities that I prepared.  The kit is 174 pages long and provides an overview of what a registered charity needs to generally know about receipting as well CRA guidance on receipting and even a CRA auditor checklist on receipting.

Here are some other resources for Canadian registered charities on issuing official donation receipts: 

  1. Blumbergs’ page on receipting by Canadian registered charities
  2. Receipting page on the Charities Directorate website
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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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Should we set up a Canadian Charity and if so How?

This article discusses considerations in setting up a registered Canadian charity and how to establish the 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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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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Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities by Mark Blumberg

89% of charities issue inappropriate receipts according to statistics from the CRA when they audit charities.  Other than non-filing the T3010 this is the greatest reason that charities face revocation.  Here is my paper that I delivered to the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Institute 2011 entitled Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities.

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Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities by Mark Blumberg for the OBA Institute

Here is a copy of my paper delivered at the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) Institute 2011 entitled Top Receipting Concerns for Canadian Registered Charities.  I was delighted to be co-chairing the program and that there were 90 lawyers out for the sessions.

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Top Ten Canadian Charity Law Issues by Mark Blumberg

So much is written about legal issues relating to charities in Canada. In this article I try to distill the ten most important things you need to know about charity law in Canada.

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Updated Canadian Registered Charity Legal Checklist by Mark Blumberg

Here is an updated version of the Canadian Charity Legal Checklist.  For those who are interested in reviewing legal compliance for their registered charity they may find the checklist helpful.  

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What is planned giving?

In this article I discuss different planned giving vehicles in Canada.

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.

mark@blumbergs.ca
416.361.1982
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