I noticed recently a couple of new notices/disclaimers on the CRA website relating to CharityFocus.ca and the credibility of registered charities.
The first statement:
Complementing the Charities Listings is Charity Focus, a tool that was developed by Imagine Canada in partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It provides an in-depth year-to-year comparison of a charity’s financial information. Charities can also include other information such as mission statements, program information, annual reports, and financial statements.
Great to see such promiment mention of CharityFocus.ca which is a great tool to help charities and donors. The T3010 information is far easier to view and understand on the CharityFocus website.
The second statement:
The CRA strives to ensure that only organizations meeting the requirements are registered. While most organizations operate within the rules, the CRA cannot fully monitor every one, and changing circumstances in an organization’s operations may affect its continued eligibility for registration. Registration should not be viewed as proof of an organization’s credibility. The CRA encourages donors to learn more about donating wisely.
With CRA only auditing less than 1% of charities every year (and even a succesful audit does not mean that a charity is a "good" charity) it is important that CRA lets the public know that registered charity status is not a seal of approval or a sign of credibility but only a tax status with certain benefits and responsibilities. There are many great charities out there but there are a few charities that are less than great and causing a large amount of repuational harm to the sector. Some may find the website smartgiving.ca that I created to be helpful. A disclaimer is something that I have been asking for years and I would argue is pretty obvious for many. Seven years ago I suggested a far "better" disclaimer. Glad to see that CRA has said something.
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.