Political Activities and Canadian charities

March 18, 2012

Canadian Senators comment on foreign funding and political activities of registered charities

A Canadian Senator Nicole Eaton has been commenting on Canadian charities and a number of senators have spoken in agreement and in disagreement.  I wish the Senate had access to better information on the charitable sector.

read more

March 12, 2012

Marcel Lauzière of Imagine Canada piece on “Role of charities”

Marcel Lauzière of Imagine Canada has written a good piece entitled “Role of Charities” in which he nicely summarizes why charities have, and should have, involvement in the political process.  Remember that charities cannot be involved in partisan political activity, but they can spend some of their resources on dealing with political issues that are related to their legal objects.

read more

January 16, 2012

So how much do Canadian charities receive from foreign sources according to the T3010 Returns?

There has been a little political firestorm last week over US foundations funding of certain Canadian environmental charities.  So how much revenue actually comes to Canada from foreign countries including the US?  The answer seems to be about $831 million.  That is from Line 4575 “Total revenue received from all sources outside Canada”.  If you are interested in who got what then read on.

read more

January 15, 2012

What is the difference between political purposes and charitable purposes for a Canadian charity?

Charities must have exclusively charitable purposes.  They cannot have political purposes.  Purposes are the legal objects of the charity.

read more

January 15, 2012

What happens if you do more than 10% political or your unstated purpose is political?

Charities can lose their registered charity status if they do more than 10% political work.  In fact this would be rare.  CRA generally takes an “education first” approach and depending on the seriousness of the non-compliance and the charity’s willingness to bring itself into compliance would sometimes receive an educational letter or compliance agreement.

read more

January 15, 2012

Can a charity give resources to another org. and how does this affect its disbursement quota?

Yes charities can transfer funds to other organizations for allowable political activities and depending on whether the other organization is a qualified donee (eg. a registered charity) or not makes a difference.  Also the recent 2012 Budget will impact on this area.  If a charity provides a non-profit (non-charity) with funds to do political activities the charity needs to maintain direction and control over those funds that are provided to the non-profit intermediary.  On the other hand if a charity provides funds to another registered charity it could do so as an outright gift, an earmarked gift or as a purchase for services according to CPS-022.  The T3010 will be made more precise in that if funds are even gifted to another organization but earmarked for political it will count toward the 10% limit of the donor foundation.

read more

January 15, 2012

How much can a registered charity spend on political activities?

The simple answer for most charities is 10% of resources (which includes money, volunteers etc).  However, smaller charities may be able to spend more and charities that have not done political in previous years may be able to spend more in a particular year than 10%.  All political activities of Canadian charities need to be non-partisan and related to the legal objects of the charity.

read more

January 15, 2012

What kind of activities can a registered Canadian charity participate in?

Canadian charities can spend resources on charitable activities, political activities, fundraising activities, administration and other (eg. social).  Except for charitable activities their are restrictions and limitations on how much a Canadian charity can do.  Some activities which involve political elements may be prohibited or allowable political activities or in fact charitable activities.

read more

January 15, 2012

What political activities are “prohibited activities” for Canadian registered charities?

Canadian charities are not allowed to participate in either illegal or partisan political activities.

read more

January 15, 2012

What are some examples of prohibited political activities by Canadian charities?

Here are some examples of prohibited political activities.  Charities are prohibited from being involved in prohibited political activities.

read more

January 15, 2012

What are some examples of permitted political activities by Canadian charities?

Charities are allowed to conduct “permitted” political activities and here are some examples from the CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022.

read more

January 15, 2012

What is the definition of a political activity for Canadian charities?

Canadian charities often do not understand what is “political activities”.  Many think that political activities is either partisan activities or abusive mud slinging.  In fact many charities don’t understand the broad scope of political activities as understood by CRA and the Courts.

read more

January 15, 2012

What are some examples of charitable activities that may seem political?

Here is some guidance from the CRA on activities which they will consider to be part of the charitable activities of a registered charity.

read more

January 15, 2012

Political activities: Is it educational or is it propaganda?

An activity by a registered charity could be charitable if you are helping people “make an informed and critical choice” and it could be propaganda if you are trying to indoctrinate people into a particular viewpoint.

read more

January 15, 2012

When is communication or public awareness a charitable activity rather than political for charities?

In some case CRA accepts that communication to the public or public awareness campaigns may be considered charitable and not political.

read more

January 15, 2012

Books and records requirements for Canadian registered charities when they do political activities?

As with all charity activities it is important that charities maintain adequate books and records of their political activities.  Such books and records should be maintained in Canada and preferably in either English or French.

read more

January 15, 2012

Filing requirements when Canadian registered charities do political activities?

Canadian charities that are involved with political activities must note that on their T3010 forms.

read more

January 15, 2012

CRA definitions and political activities as described in CPS-022

Here is some of the definitions and terminology used by CRA in discussing political activities by Canadian charities.

read more

January 11, 2012

“Foes of Northern Gateway pipeline fear revocation of charitable status” - Globe and Mail article

In a Globe and Mail article entitled “Foes of Northern Gateway pipeline fear revocation of charitable status” there is a discussion of recent issues raised about foreign funding on Canadian charities and political activities of Canadian charities.

read more

August 27, 2011

CRA Guidance “Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration” for Canadian Charities

The CRA on August 22, 2011 published their Guidance CG-011, Promotion of Animal Welfare and Charitable Registration.  CRA had completed and public consultation and here is the revised guidance.

read more

June 21, 2011

New CRA webcasts/archived webinars on website - foreign activities, political activities and T3010

The CRA has added three new webinars to their website on “Activities outside Canada”, Political activities and a T3010-1: Line by line review.

read more

November 22, 2010

“Bill C-470 and the Backlash Against Fundraising” - by Malcolm Burrows

Malcolm Burrows recently wrote a very thoughtful article for the September 2010 edition of Gift Planning in Canada on C-470, the private members bill to cap salaries at registered charities and to force charities to disclose salary information on the top 5 employees irrespective of their earnings.  I have received permission to reproduce the article here and thought that some who are interested in compensation and HR practices in the charitable sector would find it useful.

read more

August 25, 2010

Bill C-470 Canadian salary cap for registered charities - simply the wrong approach

A bill to impose a salary cap on Canadian registered charities has passed 2nd reading and will shortly be reviewed by the Finance Committee of the House of Commons.  As they say, there is usually one simple solution to a complex problem that is totally wrong.  To have a single cap for all Canadian charities means that Canadian hospitals, research institutions, and universities will not even have a chance of being able to compete with other similar institutions around the world.  While it sounds appealing to cap salaries at $250,000, a very problematic piece of legislation when you drill down to the details .  You see it is not about what charities want to pay for things - every charity would ideally want everything for free.  Charities need to able to recruit people to accomplish their mission.  Charities should never pay more than they need to.  They should never pay more than fair market compensation.  But you cannot just put a one-size fits all number on what it is.  When there are only a few neurosurgeons you cannot pay what you want - you need to pay something related to the going rate for neurosurgeons or be prepared to do without them.  If you are a small community in the North and you want to have a specialist in your community, you may have to pay that person more than what a comparable hospital in Toronto or Chicago would pay.

read more

July 27, 2010

Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian International Development Charities

Here is a copy of my presentation to the Ontario Council For International Cooperation (OCIC) on “Advocacy and Political Activities for Canadian International Development Charities: Some Legal and Ethical Perspectives”.

read more

May 17, 2010

CRA releases its Guidance on “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”

CRA has just released its guidance “Upholding Human Rights and Charitable Registration”.  Any Canadian charity dealing with human rights issues will want to read this document.

read more

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

Contact

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
416.361.1982
Download vCard

Connect

Locate

Blumberg Segal LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
#1202 - 390 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5H 2Y2 Canada

Charity Law List

Join Blumbergs' non-profit and charities newsletter
View recent issue: March 2019