July 05, 2014
The CRTC recently updated their FAQs to include a discussion of an exemption related to Canadian registered charities. If a commercial electronic message (CEM) sent by a Canadian registered charity has the "primary purpose" of raising funds for the charity then that message will be exempt. The CRTC definition of "primary purpose" is consistent with the ordinary meaning of "primary purpose" and not some other meanings that have been suggested by some. The CRTC notes in their FAQ "The “primary purpose” of a CEM means the main reason or main purpose of the CEM. There could be a secondary or additional purpose to the message, but the principal purpose of the CEM must be to raise funds for the charity." Some of the brief examples provided by the CRTC are not that clear.
April 27, 2014
We recently reviewed the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return database for 2012 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project. We have taken a subset of the 2012 T3010 data to look at only registered charities based in Alberta. The data set was updated to January 2014. Alberta has a very important charitable sector and this will shed a small amount of light on some of the numbers.
April 21, 2014
I will be presenting at the Ontario Hospital Association's conference "Strengthening Foundation Governance: Current Issues, Challenges and Solutions" on May 30, 2014 in Toronto.
February 04, 2014
Mr. Berg made a ‘donation’ to a registered charity, Cheder Chabad, and the registration of that charity has subsequently been revoked. The Allen Berg case is important because it discusses “donative intent” and the Friedberg decision. It upholds Marechaux and Kossow. The FCA overturned a Tax Court of Canada decision in which the TCC had said that for the cash portion of Mr. Berg’s ‘donation’ he was entitled to a tax credit. The Court concluded with respect to donative intent “...Mr. Berg did not intend to impoverish himself by transferring the timeshare units to Cheder Chabad. On the contrary, he intended to enrich himself by making use of falsely inflated charitable gift receipts to profit from inflated tax credit claims. He consummated the “deal” solely with that objective, and he acted from beginning to end in a manner intended to achieve that result.”
November 12, 2013
Saskatchewan has introduced a bill that would regulate informal public appeals. This will cover situations like when a fire destroys a family home and funds are raised to help the family and what to do if there are excess funds etc. Most importantly for charities the proposed legislation does not apply to qualified donees (i.e. registered charities, etc) and their fundraising. This legislation will be helpful in a number of situations that commonly come up with informal appeals. As is typical Saskatchewan leads the way!
November 10, 2013
We recently reviewed the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return database for 2011 as part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project. We provided an overview of the whole charity sector in the Blumbergs’ Charity Sector Snapshot 2011. We have taken a subset of the 2011 T3010 data to look at only registered charities based in Ontario. This article provides a snapshot of the registered charity sector in Ontario based on the 2011 T3010 filings. Here is a PDF of the Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Ontario Charity Sector 2011.
October 13, 2013
On October 15, 2013, Blumbergs will be having the 2nd Annual Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute in Toronto. It will be a full day of practical legal and ethical compliance information geared toward charities, professional advisors and those interested in regulatory issues affecting charities. Space is limited. We have 125 registered already.
September 19, 2013
I will be co-presenting on “Ethical Decision-Making in Fundraising: Dealing with Situations that Challenge Professional Ethics” at the Ontario Hospital Association conference HealthAchieve 2013 in Toronto in November.
September 12, 2013
CRA has recently revoked the Christian Economic Assistance Foundation as a registered charity. The charity had been previously covered by the National Post in a story entitled “Parents could face massive bills after CRA accuses Christian schools charity program of running ‘tax scheme’”
July 05, 2013
I will be giving a presentation to Chapel & York on Fundraising from Canada on July 26th, 2013 in London, England. Here is a link to the description and registration details: http://goo.gl/lMFbQ
July 03, 2013
I recently wrote a short piece entitled “Asking a bigger question” that was distributed in the new Mackenzie Investments magazine entitled Mackenzie Strategic Philanthropy. My article dealt with the true cost of bringing resources into the sector. There are a number of other interesting articles in the magazine .
February 10, 2013
The Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency has announced the revocation of The Voice of the Cerebral Palsied of Greater Vancouver as a charity for allegedly high fundraising costs while using a third party fundraiser. The press release is not clear about the other grounds of revocation. Perhaps the CRA letters will shed more light on the CRA concerns.
November 21, 2012
On November 28, 2012 we will be having the Blumbergs’ Canadian Charity Law Institute in Toronto. It will be a full day of practical legal and ethical compliance information geared toward charities, professional advisors and those interested in regulatory issues affecting charities.
Delighted to have 120 registrants so far for the program.
Some of the highlights include:
•head of the Determinations Division of the Charities Directorate of CRA, which determines whether charitable applications will be accepted, will talk about issues with applying for charitable status;
•lawyers from the Ontario government will discuss progress and issues with the new Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA);
•a representative of Corporations Canada of Industry Canada will provide a short primer on the Canada Not-for-profit Corporation Act (CNCA) and transition requirements as well as deficiencies with the applications that Industry Canada is receiving and common questions asked by practitioners.
•a top corporate lawyer will focus on lessons learned, issues and challenges with the CNCA and what to expect with the ONCA;
•hearing directly from CRA about changes relating to political activities of Canadian charities, other policy developments and upcoming guidances;
•discussion of major challenges with receipting and unacceptable donor restrictions;
•recent changes in transparency and availability of charity information from a transparency expert;
•update from Mark Blumberg on the charity sector, recent developments and the ongoing political processes in Ottawa affecting charities and donors;
•and much more.
Here is a link to the information and registration page: http://charitylaw.eventbrite.com
November 04, 2012
On June 28, 2012, in Barrie, Ontario, a fundraiser named Adam Gour was convicted by McIsaac, J. of fraud for failing to disclose commissions to donors and deceiving donors. The decision may be appealed. The Gour case is important because it shows the effective use of criminal law in regulating inappropriate activities involving charities or fundraisers. Also it highlights the importance of charities being transparent about fundraising solicitations. In this case failure to disclose a commission arrangement to the public constitutes fraud under criminal law. Will this result in more criminal prosecutions? We will see. I have been arguing for a while that expecting the Charities Directorate to deal with major abuse affecting the sector with their very limited tools is unfair and that police forces and prosecutors need to take more initiative and use the criminal code.
May 01, 2012
Here is information on a webinar that I will be delivering with AFP International entitled “Fundraising from Canada” on May 22, 1-2:30 p.m. ET.
April 23, 2012
On April 20, 2012 CRA released a new Guidance on Fundraising for Canadian registered charities. This guidance is the most important information from the Charities Directorate on the obligations of Canadian registered charities when it comes to fundraising.
February 03, 2012
CRA will be shortly releasing their much anticipated revised Guidance on Fundraising. Join charity lawyer Mark Blumberg as he presents a webinar on behalf of the Charity Law Information Program entitled “CRA’s New Fundraising Guidance” on Friday, February 10, 2012 at 1PM EST for approximately 1 hour.
December 03, 2010
On Thursday at AFP there was a debate between Ken Mayhew, Dan Pallotta and myself on a number of issues surrounding compensation. Ken Mayhew and myself opposed commission based fundraising and Dan Pallotta supported it. There are a number of concerns with commission based fundraising, principal among them that it encourages aggressive short term behaviour by fundraisers that may undermine the reputation of their charity and the charitable sector. It can also alienate donors. It can also create unfair windfalls for some fundraising staff compared to others and create morale problems for the other staff in an organization - for example those on the front lines delivering the charitable services who may be paid far less. It can also result in fundraisers earning very little, far less than a living wage.
November 03, 2010
Join me on a “Charity Chat” on Friday, December 3, 2010 12:00 pm (midday) when I discuss “Questions About the Fundraising Guidance”. The Charity Chats are a series of informal online discussions about legal issues affecting charities put on by the Charity Law Information Program (CLIP) of Capacity Builders, with the support of CRA’s Charities Partnership and Outreach Program. It will be about an hour. There is no fee. You don’t have to have read the CRA’s Fundraising Guidance but if you want to you can find a copy at:
May 01, 2010
The CRA Guidance on Fundraising for Canadian charities is located on the CRA website at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-028-eng.html
May 01, 2010
“Has the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) changed its position on fundraising by charities? No.”