Articles

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Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems

Here is a copy of my presentation to the Canadian Association of Paralegals on Establishing a Canadian Non-Profit or Charity - Avoiding practical, legal and ethical problems.

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Ethical Tourism may be laudable but not charitable according to the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal

In the Travel Just case CRA had refused to register an organizations whose objects were very broad.  The Federal Court of Appeal agreed with CRA.  [Subsequently the Supreme Court of Canada refused an application for leave to appeal.]

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Foreign Universities Fundraising in Canada

There are many options for foreign universities who are interested in fundraising in Canada and I have discussed 6 different options. It is time to think of your alma mater or your parent’s alma mater and how Canadians can support these universities.

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Governance Changes and responding to the New Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)

Confused about the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)?  In this article we have summarized some things that non-profits and charities should consider.

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How accurate are the T3010 charity returns when it comes to political activities?

Canadian registered charities must file the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return within six months of the end of their fiscal year, although some are not able to meet that deadline and file soon thereafter.  It is a very important form because despite its limitations it is really the only uniform way to obtain information on all registered charities in Canada.  Some people are surprised to find out that answers on the T3010 are not always reliable.  I am going to make a few comments on the reliability of the T3010 and specifically with respect to questions relating to “political activities”.

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How Can Canadian Charity Obtain Cost-Effective Legal Services from a lawyer?

This article discusses how Canadian charities can obtain legal services in a way that will not break the bank.  This is a big problem.  According to the T3010 statistics a majority of charities spend zero on professional services which services include legal and accounting services.  This is far from desirable if one thinks that accountability, transparency, good governance and compliance with the laws are important.

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How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead - an article by Mark Blumberg

Canadians are increasingly asking “How Much Should A Canadian Charity Spend on Overhead?”  Is this the right question?
Here is my June 2010 article on the subject which was just published in the Canadian Donor’s Guide: view PDF

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Imagine Canada’s new Ethics Code: Imagining a more ethical sector

Imagine has revised its Code of Ethics (or Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code) and in this article I review the changes and provide a critique of the strengths and weaknesses of the Imagine Canada’s Code of Ethics.

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Informal Legal Audits of Canadian Charities and their Foreign Operations

The Globe & Mail article I referred to above on Canadian disaster relief charities not complying with the rules provides one of many illustrations of the importance of Canadian charities understanding and complying with CRA guidelines on Canadian charities operating outside of Canada. If you make it through this giving season with your fingers crossed and without any scrutiny then consider in the new year having a informal legal audit of your foreign activities. It is the best gift you can give to your charitable loved one!

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Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity? - my Charity Village article

Here is an article I wrote for Charity Village entitled “Is it legal and ethical to take over a dormant Canadian charity?”

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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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Largest Canadian Registered Charities by Employment Compensation

About 2.7 million Canadians work for Canadian registered charities. They earn approximately $122 billion per year.  This article takes data from the CRA's T3010 Registered Charity Information Return and shows the charities that spend the most on employment compensation.  

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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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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:  www.taxjustice.net

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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Planned Giving Internationally in “Your Guide to Charitable Giving and Estate Planning”.

This article discusses a Canadian legal perspective on Planned Giving Internationally. It was written by Mark Blumberg and recently appeared in “Your Guide to Charitable Giving and Estate Planning”, a supplement that appeared in the Globe and Mail on Friday May 11, 2007 and was produced by the Greater Toronto Area Roundtable of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.

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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

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
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