The Charities Directorate of CRA has released the Charity Program Update 2015.  We will discuss the update in this note, except for the parts dealing with political activities which we will discuss here.

The Charity Program Update 2015 provides some interesting information on the regulation of charities.  Some of my highlights with comments include:

CRA's Charities and Giving webpages got 2.3 million visits in 2014

The Charities and Giving website has 1,050 webpages, and CRA updated over 550, and removed 114, in 2014. My suggestion to CRA which so far has not been adopted is that they should have an ongoing list of pages that are added or updated.

For the first time that I am aware of it CRA disclosed:

“In 2014, there were over 623,000 visits to the Charities Listings basic search webpages and over 432,000 visits to the advanced search webpages. The numbers for the basic search webpages are up almost 17% from 2013. The numbers for the advanced search webpages are up 6% from 2013.”  Obviously the information contained in the T3010 is not only available on the CRA websites.  There are a number of other websites using the T3010 including  I asked Imagine Canada as an example of how much web traffic they received and apparently they got around 200,000 unique visits.  There are other websites that also utilize this information.    For charities it is important that they carefully and accurately complete the T3010.   

There are quite a few people, not just me, asking the Charities Directorate for documents on charities:

“In 2014, we processed over 1,400 public document requests.”

The CRA is reluctant to use email – it is admittedly not the most secure method of communication.  It is good to see that they are stepping beyond just sending out their email list.  CRA notes:

“To receive reminders and notices (such as reminders to file) that relate to a charity that you are responsible for, you can contact us and give us your charity’s email address. You can also give us your charity’s email address when you file your charity’s annual return, by entering the address on Form TF725, Registered Charity Basic Information Sheet.”

So make sure that when you are filing your T3010 you put the email address in or you let CRA know.  CRA notes later in the report “Also, when a charity has given us its email address, we send an email reminder if we do not receive its return within four months of the end of its fiscal period. If you want to take advantage of this service, contact us. In 2014, we sent out over 30,000 electronic reminders to file.”

The CRA has been providing open data on the federal government website for some time.  In the report it notes:

“Research page: understanding the charitable environment in Canada

In addition to the charities data that forms part of, we are developing a Research page. This follows from the commitment made in Budget 2014 to make data on charitable giving and trends more accessible and to enhance public understanding of the charitable sector.”

Currently there is no “research page” but it will be interesting to see what the CRA comes up with.

You can visit the open data sets relating to charities at   These are CSV (excel) files – they are of limited use because although they provide the BN numbers and information they do not have the name of the charity easily available.   If the name of the charity was also included in the set then I think that people would find the material interesting.

The CRA seems to be increasingly sending out reminder letters. “In 2014, we sent out 26 reminder letters (including 23 for political activities – see Audit screening process for more information).”

CRA is clearly paying far closer attention to the T3010 filings.  They note:

“In 2014, we mailed:

over 70,000 reminders to charities to file their annual returns (we mail this reminder if we have not received a charity’s return within three months of the end of its fiscal period)

over 8,000 reminders to charities to file their financial statements

over 5,000 notices to charities that they had not properly completed parts of their returns”.


Therefore, CRA is sending out 8000 reminders to charities that they have to file their financial statements and importantly 5000 notices to charities that they are not completing their T3010s correctly.  Keep in mind that today CRA is sending out notices, expect in the next few years the possibility that CRA will be suspending the receipting privileges of charities who do not complete the T3010.

CRA notes that in terms of audits:


In any given year, the Compliance Division of the Charities Directorate audits approximately 1% of registered charities across the four categories of charities, and in all regions of the country. Only a small portion of the charities selected face serious sanctions such as penalties or revocation. In 2013-2014 fiscal year, 845 audits were completed, resulting in:

112 audits required no action

514 education letters

139 compliance agreements

4 penalties

36 notices of intention to revoke

20 voluntary withdrawals of application for charitable status

6 annulments

1 suspension

1 re-registration/pre-registration review

12 cases with other outcomes”

As I have never been involved in an audit that required no action I cannot comment on that!  Good to see the large number of education letters being sent out compared to compliance agreements.  With all the 86,000 charities in Canada CRA is only proposing in 36 cases that they lose their charitable status!  That amounts to about 3% of all charities that are audited and 0.0004% of charities that are registered.