Yes charities can transfer funds to other organizations for allowable political activities and depending on whether the other organization is a qualified donee (eg. a registered charity) or not makes a difference. Also the recent 2012 Budget will impact on this area. If a charity provides a non-profit (non-charity) with funds to do political activities the charity needs to maintain direction and control over those funds that are provided to the non-profit intermediary. On the other hand if a charity provides funds to another registered charity it could do so as an outright gift, an earmarked gift or as a purchase for services according to CPS-022. The T3010 will be made more precise in that if funds are even gifted to another organization but earmarked for political it will count toward the 10% limit of the donor foundation.
The references below are dated as they are from before the DQ changes and the changes in the 2012 Federal Budget:
Here is an excerpt from CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022
“10. Can a charity give its resources to another organization of individuals to conduct political activities on its behalf?
Yes. A charity can hire others to conduct on its behalf any political activities that it is allowed to undertake itself. This includes hiring professional lobbying firms. If the other organization is also a registered charity, see the next section on how such expenditures affect the spending requirements (disbursement quotas) of the two charities.
11. What impact do political activities have on a charity’s disbursement quota?
While a registered charity can engage in political activities as described above, the Act limits its expenditures on these activities, not only through the substantially all test, but also through the operation of the charity’s disbursement quota.
To maintain their registration under the Act, charities are required to spend a certain minimum amount of receipted donations each year (the disbursement quota) directly on their charitable activities or on gifts to certain other organizations. These other organizations (qualified donees) are usually other registered charities.
Charities cannot use the amounts they devote to political activities to help them meet their disbursement quota. Therefore, they should check to make sure they would have no difficulty meeting their quota before considering any expenditure on political activities.
Sometimes charities support the political activities of other charities or pay them to conduct political activities on their behalf. The impact of these payments on a charity’s disbursement quota depends on whether the payment represents:
• a purchase of services; or
• a gift to help support the other charity’s political activities.
If the payment is a purchase of services, neither the paying charity nor the recipient charity can use the amount to satisfy their disbursement quotas.
If the payment is a gift, the paying charity can use the amount gifted to meet its disbursement quota (as a gift to a qualified donee). Since the recipient charity will be spending the gifted amount on its own political activities, it cannot use the amount it spends to satisfy its disbursement quota.
Note: Registered charities cannot make gifts to organizations that are not qualified donees.”
Here is a link to CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022 http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html
As well here is a copy in PDF of the CRA Policy Statement on Political Activities by Canadian Charities CPS-022 - September 2, 2003 so that you can download it easily to your computer.
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.