Here is a copy of an article I wrote for the newsletter “Charitable Thoughts” of the Ontario Bar Association Charity and Not-for-Profit Law Section

10 Most Useful Features of the Canada Revenue Agency’s Charities Directorate Website for Canadian Registered Charities
 
Mark Blumberg*
1) Quick Charity Search and Advanced Charity Search
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/menu-eng.html

•Has list of 85,000 registered charities;
•Great for finding out if an organization is a registered charity;
•For foundations and other charities this list is helpful to know to whom a charity can grant funds (most of the qualified donees are registered charities and are listed on the site). A charity that gifts funds to a group that is not a qualified donee can lose its charitable status;
•Provides T3010 annual return information on all charities including revenues, expenses, whether they conduct political or foreign activities, employee compensation, etc;
•T3010 information is only source of information available to compare all Canadian registered charities;
•Provides some information on charities whose status has been revoked.

2) Checklists for Charities
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/chcklsts/menu-eng.html

•If you want a quick overview the checklists are a great place to start;
•There are checklists for: Basic guidelines, Activities, Books and records, Receipting, Spending requirements (DQ), T3010, Legal status, Changes GST/HST and the recently added Terrorism.

3) Charity Directorate E-mail list
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/esrvc-srvce/mllst/sbscrbchrts-eng.html

•To subscribe: “Enter your e-mail address in the box below, and select Subscribe.” There is no cost. You get about 1-2 e-mails per month.
•If you want to unsubscribe: “If you are already a subscriber and wish to cancel, enter your e-mail address in the box below, and select Unsubscribe.”
•The e-mail list keeps you in the loop on major developments in the charity world – new policies, consultations, new checklists, new forms and, of course, those high profile revocation of abusive tax avoidance schemes.

4) Summary Policies
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/csp/csp_mnn-eng.html

•Summary policies are a great place to start especially, if you are not really sure where to look for what you need.

5) Operating a Registered Charity
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/prtng/menu-eng.html

•On one page you have links to most documents that you need to access to find out about operating a registered Canadian charity.

6) Issuing Receipts
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/prtng/rcpts/menu-eng.html

•89% of charities that are audited do not handle receipts properly.

7) CRA Webinars and Information Sessions

•CRA offers information sessions in person throughout the country for free. These used to be called “Roadshows”. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cmmnctn/menu-eng.html
•CRA is now also offering free webinars at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cmmnctn/wbnrs/menu-eng.html

8) CRA Registered Charity Newsletters
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cmmnctn/nwslttrs/menu-eng.html

•The CRA Registered Charity Newsletters have a large amount of information that is useful for charities.
•there is an alphabetical index at the bottom of the page.
•http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cmmnctn/nwslttrs/cnws-ndx-eng.html is an index with some description of each newsletter.

9) CRA Charity Directorate Forms
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/formspubs/tpctyp-eng.html

•Every form from application to operation to revocation.

10) Contact Information for CRA
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/cntct/cntct-eng.html

•If you cannot find what you are looking for on the website you can always call CRA directly.
•If you want general information you can call on a “no-client-name” basis.

11) RSS Feed on the CRA Charities Directorate
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/esrvc-srvce/rss/chrts-eng.xml

•RSS feeds are content fed directly from a website to your computer. Instead of going to your five favourite websites and checking what is new every day it can be fed directly to you, saving you time and being more reliable in terms of providing information. If you see that funny orange symbol on a website you know it has a RSS feed.
•Alternatively, the What’s New Page has the same information: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/whtsnw/menu-eng.html

Once you get comfortable with the CRA website you will realize that it has a lot of useful information. Although you can always call CRA in many cases you can more quickly find the information on their website. You should check back occasionally as CRA keeps on adding to the website.

*Mark Blumberg is a lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP, mark@blumbergs.ca or at 416-361-1982 x. 237.