What is the WE Charity Foundation? It is a charity that probably no one had heard of until recently when the Canadian government decided that it was uniquely qualified to receive a $912 million grant.  According to the Kielburgers “WE Charity Foundation does not hold WE Charity real estate assets” and “Regarding your  question about the WE Charity Foundation: It is a legal entity that never previously operated nor held any funds for any purpose, and was created in part to manage legal liability,” [Global News]

Stewart Bell from Global News obtained copies of the Application to CRA of the WE Charity Foundation. Here are the redacted documents on WE Charity Foundation that Stewart uploaded that were provided by CRA. You can obtain similar documents by making a request to CRA.

Note what CRA can and cannot provide with an informal information request (as opposed to more formal access to information request which is much more complicated and time-consuming – I assume a few ATIP requests have gone into the Federal government on various WE entities).

How to get information about a charity

Make an informal information request

To make an informal information request for a charity’s documents, use the form Request for registered charity information.

If you are a member of the media, contact a media relations representative.

Informal information requests:

  • offer the same information as formal requests
  • are free
  • are generally answered sooner than formal requests
  • are handled by the CRA’s Charities Directorate

The CRA can give you:

  • a copy of a charity’s governing documents, including its statement of purpose
  • a copy of the public portions of a charity’s application for registration and notification of registration, including any conditions or warnings
  • the names of a charity’s directors/trustees and when they held the positions
  • a copy of the public information from a charity’s annual information return and financial statements
  • a copy of letters the CRA has sent to a charity about the reasons for revocation or annulment
  • a copy of letters or notices the CRA has sent to a charity about a suspension or an assessment of tax or penalty (other than the amount of revocation tax)
  • a copy of the information filed to support requests for:
    • re-designation as a charitable organization, private foundation, or public foundation
    • designation as an associated charity
    • permission to accumulate property

The CRA cannot give you:

  • information about a charity’s donors
  • confirmation that an application for charitable registration has been received or denied
  • confidential information about a charity’s officials
  • confidential information from a charity’s annual information return
  • information relating to a charity’s dealings with the CRA, such as:
    • whether the charity is being audited
    • the status of an audit
    • the next steps of an audit
    • how and where the CRA gets its leads

Make a formal access to information request

Formal requests:

  • may have processing fees
  • are handled by the CRA’s Access to Information and Privacy Directorate with help from the Charities Directorate
  • generally take longer to process than informal requests
  • give you a right of complaint to the offices of the information and privacy commissioners
  • usually offer the same information as informal requests

To make a formal access to information request, go to How to access information at the CRA.

For more information, go to Access to information and privacy at the Canada Revenue Agency.

 

That is CRA and registered charities.  Now on to corporate information.

For Federal corporations, you can search Corporations Canada database and obtain copies for free of corporate documents.

Also here are some public documents from Corporations Canada including:

By the way, if you want good sample documents Corporations Canada has them on their website as well as information on how to run a Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (“CNCA”) corporation.

You can also search the WE Charity Foundation at the CRA website on their database called the “Charities Listing“.  Here is the link to WE Charity Foundation itself.

Here is what that “Detail Page” looks like on July 22, 2020.

The detail page gives you the name of the charity, BN #, whether it is registered (vs. revoked, etc), the effective date of registration (when it got its status – in this case, January 1, 2019), that it is not under under “sanction” (which means penalty or suspension), that the language of correspondence is English, that the charity is designated as a “Public Foundation”, the charity type (which is 4 heads of charity – they are under Other purposes beneficial to the community, category type is Foundations, Address is listed.  Note the email is not provided in this case and the charity website is not listed.

The most important point is that there is no T3010 on the database – it may not have been filed or processed.  This is a very new registered charity (only as of January 1, 2019).   Assuming it is December 31 year-end (as listed on the charity application) and with the COVID extensions, their first T3010 would only be due December 31, 2020.   So hold on for 6 months and then it may take CRA another few months to process it if it is filed in paper form.    Most charities would have up to 5 years of T3010s available.   All the information that would be available on the T3010 is not available for this charity.  Here is a copy of the T3010 to give you an idea – this is our Blumbergs’ Snapshot of the Canadian Charity Sector.  Also by way of comparison see this link to WE Charity Quickview and WE Charity details page on the Charities Listing and how much more information is available on it.

I have been asked why is “WE Charity Foundation” not on www.CharityData.ca and the answer is that CharityData.ca uses CRA T3010 data and is currently searchable based on the last complete year which is 2018.  We Charity Foundation was not a charity in 2018 and there is not yet even one T3010 in the CRA database. So in summary, if you are looking for a charity that has received and $912m grant and it was only set up as a registered charity in the last year Charitydata.ca, the largest portal of data on the Canadian charity sector, may not be of much assistance!  Sorry about that.

Here is some information on CharityData.ca:

Blumbergs has created the largest Canadian registered charity information portal at CharityData.ca with up to 17 years of data on every Canadian registered charity.

CharityData.ca provides an easy to use interface that is far easier to use than the CRA’s Charities Listing to analyse T3010 Registered Charity Information Return data on a particular charity.   It also allows the user to sort charities under “Advanced Charity Search” by over 30 criteria.

While it is easy to see what gifts a charity gives to other charities on the CRA website, but what if you want to know which charities gave funds to a particular charity?  Now you can do this on CharityData.ca by looking under the “Fundraising” tab.

The Director Search function of CharityData.ca also allows users to search over 600,000 directors by their first and last names, and it is the only publicly available and up-to-date tool for searching them.

The portal is free and it aims to increase transparency in the Canadian charity sector.

You can use CharityData.ca to search or sort by the following:

Search by Name of Charity, BN, Program, Charity Type, Revenue, Province and City.

You can also sort by over 25 different parameters listed below.

– Relevance
– Legal name
– Total assets (4200)
– Total liabilities (4350)
– Total revenue (4700)
– Total expenditures (5100)
– Receipted donations (4500)
– Total amount received from other charities (4510)
– Total amount of tax-receipted gifts-in-kind (580)
– Revenue from sale of goods and services (4640)
– Total revenue received from the federal government (4540)
– Total revenue received from provincial/territorial governments (4550)
– Total revenue received from municipal/regional governments (4560)
– Total tax-receipted revenue from outside Canada (4571)
– Total non tax-receipted revenue from outside Canada (4575)
– Total Advertising and promotion (4800)
– Occupancy costs (4850)
– Professional and consulting fees (4860)
– Total expenditures on charitable activities (5000)
– Total expenditures on management and administration (5010)
– Total expenditures on fundraising (5020)
– Total expenditures on political activities, inside or outside Canada (5030)
– Total other expenditures (5040)
– Total amounts paid to external fundraisers (5460)
– Total compensation expenditures (390)
– Total Expenditures Outside of Canada / Foreign Activities (200)

For the most up-to-date information on a particular charity, including whether a charity is still registered, you should use the CRA Charities Listing. However, for analyzing the past data of charities CharityData.ca is much easier to use.

CharityData.ca is part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project, which is in memory of my youngest brother Sean Blumberg. Sean was a sweet, kind person, a great brother who helped me on a number of occasions with many tasks including the time consuming and arduous task of reviewing T3010 databases and making them into something useful. As part of the Sean Blumberg Transparency Project, Blumbergs has been releasing information on the Canadian charity sector to provide a better understanding of the size, scope, complexity and challenges of the sector.

 

Here is an article on the differences between the CRA’s Charities Listing and CharityData.ca

Please note these two cautions from CRA (with my emphasis):

Use this page to confirm a charity’s status and Business/Registration number. The Charities Directorate has not necessarily verified the other information provided by the charity.

Links to Websites not under the control of the Government of Canada (GoC) are provided solely for the convenience of users. The GoC is not responsible for the accuracy, currency or the reliability of the content. The GoC does not offer any guarantee in that regard and is not responsible for the information found through these links, nor does it endorse the sites and their content. Users should be aware that information offered by non-GoC sites that are not subject to the Official Languages Act and to which the CRA links, may be available only in the languages used by the sites in question.

There is lots of information that we don’t know about the WE Charity Foundation.  In fact, there is lots of information that we don’t know about lots of charities.  Charity transparency can definitely be improved in Canada.  Here is my recent pre-budget submission to the Finance Committee.

Also here is an article I recently wrote If the T3010 annual charity return improves perhaps the charity sector and transparency will also improve

For charity execs and super geeks here is a 3-hour online event we are doing on “Transparency in the Canadian Charitable Sector and the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return“.

Also in 2018, the year with the most recent complete T3010 dataset from CRA, which Canadian registered charity received the most funds from the Federal government?  The answer is the University of Toronto at $287 million from the Federal government.  U of T had total revenue of $3.4 Billion.  #2 was UBC at $273 million and total revenue of $2.6 Billion.  For more information see this article.

When I have more time I will update this post.