You will need to review your organization’s official “objects” or “purposes”, as stated in your organization’s governing documents, to see whether or not they cover the programs or activities you wish to carry out.

If they do not, as a non-profit, you should be able to change your purposes to cover your new activities. For registered charities, you may be able to change your purposes to cover your new activities, but you may also require CRA approval of those purposes. CRA’s Charities Directorate is currently closed and therefore cannot presently approve any changes in purposes. Depending upon the organization and the nature of the object changes, in some cases, a registered charity can make the changes and provide the amended corporate documents to CRA along with a detailed statement of activities immediately after making the corporate changes.

If your purposes do not allow for COVID-19-related relief programs, you may still be able to give funds to other groups that are undertaking COVID-19-related relief programs if your purposes include a gifts to registered charity or qualified donee clause. Qualified donees include registered charities, listed municipalities, listed foreign universities, etc.  In many cases, another registered charity may be able to do a particular charitable program or intervention better than your registered charity and you should consider making a gift to that other registered charity.

If you are unsure whether your purposes allow for COVID-19-related relief programs, or need to change your purposes, you should obtain legal advice. You may also find the following resources to be helpful: