Some senators have been complaining about environmental groups outside Canada being involved with public policy and political discussions in Canada. I have written about the disclosure of foreign funding by Canadian charities at “So how much do Canadian charities receive from foreign sources according to the T3010 Returns?” . But I want to point out that in fact the US has significant requirements in terms of disclosure with its Form 990. Below is a copy of the TIDES US Form 990 to serve as an illustration. It is 181 pages long and provides detailed information on the work of Tides US. Far from there being no transparency about US funding of Canadian groups - there is tremendous transparency in the US 990 Return. The IRS has spent a considerable amount of time revising its form 990 and now it includes a large amount of information that Canadian charities don’t have to disclose.
Here is the Tides US Form 990 from Guidestar - I have done optical character recognition so you can more or less keyword search - there many references to different grants relating to Canada and Tar Sands. If you review 990s at GuideStar you see that US charities are required to disclose quite a bit more information than Canadian charities.
Here is a submission I made to the Finance Committee which argues we need to have greater transparency with both registered charities and non-profit organizations.
“Canadians want charitable donations to benefit legitimate charities”
I don’t mind people calling for more transparency with registered charities. After all I am constantly doing that. But we need to be clear that transparency is not just a good thing for the charities you don’t like or agree with - transparency has to be for all registered charities and I would also argue for all non-profits which are tax exempt. Transparency should be about providing stakeholders with real information that they can use. Many charities put huge resources into trying to be very transparent and do a very good job of it. Some others just need a little bit of “help”.
Here are some other resources I have put together that you might find helpful:
Transparency - What can the Charities Directorate of CRA disclose about registered charities?
Blumbergs submission on the importance of transparency to the charity and non-profit sector (2012)
Blumbergs submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-470
Blumbergs Submission “Canadians demand more transparency in non-profit and charitable sector” (2010)
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
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.