12,320 Canadian registered charities spent over $2.1 billion outside of Canada in 2005.  The details are provided.

October 11, 2007

My article a number of months ago looking at the T3010 statistics relating to Canadian charities that operate abroad was very well received so I have prepared an update relating to the 2005 T3010 information which is the most recent full fiscal year that CRA has processed.

SUMMARY

In year 2005, 80,304 charities filed their T3010A Registered Charity Information Return of the 82,773 registered charities. (In 2004 it was 78,893 that filed the T3010). Of those charities, 12,320 identified themselves as carrying on programs, directly or indirectly, outside of Canada for the fiscal 2005 year (compared to 11,969 in 2004). This reflects approximately 15.34% of the 80,304 Canadian registered charities that filed their T3010A in 2005.(15.17% in 2004). In 2002, the total amount spent by all charities outside of Canada was $1.4 billion dollars. In 2004 it had risen to $1.8 billion dollars which was a significant rise. In 2005 it was $2.1 billion which is a substantial increase over 2004. ($2,128,863,092.00.)

These are the Canadian Registered Charities that according to their 2005 T3010 Registered Charity Information Return spent at least $1 million Canadian dollars outside of Canada. There are 232 Canadian charities on the list. This compares to 204 ‘millionaires’ in 2004.

Under Question C4 of the T3010 it not only asks whether a Canadian registered charity carried on programs but also how did the Canadian charities operate abroad. There are 4 possible answers provided on the T3010:

  1. by employees or volunteers of the charity (3501)
  2. under agency agreement, contract, joint venture, or similar arrangement (2376)
  3. through gifts to qualified donees (7833)
  4. by other means. (1327)

As a charity can answer yes to one one or more of the above so the numbers are greater than the total number of charities that identified do not add up to the total number of charities that have programs outside of Canada.

Caveats

As discussed earlier there are a number of problems in dealing with the information from the T3010A Registered Charity Information Return.

1) Although an important legal document, it is often filled out by volunteers or others who have little understanding of the nuances of the Income Tax Act, may have limited language skills and, in some cases, may not have easy access to the correct information.

2) In question C5 dealing with the list of countries or regions where programs were carried out the form provides only ten boxes. Clearly some charities conduct operation in more than 10 countries or regions.

3) The fact that a charity is allowed to list regions, in addition to or instead of specific countries, will always undercut the accuracy of the statistics on countries.

4) If one carefully reads the list of regions and countries one will find that there are all sorts of inaccuracies either on the T3010 that was filed or on CRA’s inputting of the information.

  • Cities named instead of countries
  • countries spelled incorrectly,
  • former names of countries used such as Czechoslovakia,
  • lack of uniformity in country description (DRC, DROC, The Democratic Republic of Congo, the DRC etc),
  • the field being used for a relevant or irrelevant memo like a particular denominations missionary was supported without reference to a country,
  • some charities listed the same region or country
  • some listed “world” or “worldwide” or “various” which does not really add to our understanding.
  • There were a few “unknown” or “unknown countries”.
  • There were a few in which not applicable or N/A or S/O was listed.
  • There were references to Canadian cities such as Montreal, or Canadian provinces such as Ontario – clearly not outside of Canada.

5) The list that I was provided by CRA is in both French and English and I have translated it into English in order to better aggregate the information.

6) Recently The Christian Children’s Fund of Canada sent me a note that they were surprised that they were not on the list. After investigation they wrote “The CRA manually mis-keyed our T3010 into their database. The field for line F1/5400 should be $24,185,324, not $24,185. We are contacting CRA to have this fixed. … It’s unfortunate that CCFC did not get the recognition for its sizable foreign operations that is the main focus of our charitable work. Thanks for pointing out the issue to us.” This would have put CCF in 14th place on the list.

It is a good argument for the T3010’s to be filed electronically – it would reduce the workload on CRA and perhaps reduce some of the inputting errors.

The 2002 stats referred to in this article were from the CRA Newsletter #20 with respect to the 2002 fiscal year end. CRA advised that then 11,993 charities reported working outside of Canada and therefore “15% of charities reported carrying on programs outside Canada.” Of these charities, 35.8% reported that they carried on their own programs outside Canada, and that these expenditures exceeded $1.4 billion in 2002.

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