CRA just put out a easy to read and understand list of “Factors that will prevent an organization from being registered as a charity”. Perhaps CRA put out this list because with 4000 new organizations putting in applications every year to become registered charities, some of whom are not understanding what a charity is or restrictions on the activities of a charity, they wanted to make it clearer what will not qualify and hopefully they will receive better applications, or fewer, and this will reduce the backlog. I think however that the list has an even more important purpose.
CRA’s “Factors that will prevent an organization from being registered as a charity” is a great reminder to currently registered charities of what they can and cannot do. I would recommend that organizations circulate it to all their board members so that they can be reminded in a simple list of what they can and cannot do. The “can” is as important as the “cannot”. CRA references some really useful publications on foreign activities, business and political activities that charities should read. It should be included in board packages for new members or mentioned at orientations for board members.
My only reservation about the piece is that most of my free time is spent trying to educate Canadian charities about their legal and ethical obligations. If CRA keeps on putting out good material like this I may be out of my volunteer job. I don’t play golf or hockey or garden - what will I do with all the extra time?
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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.