There is a difference between a business making a donation to a registered charity and a corporation entering into a sponsorship arrangement. See CRA Sponsorship.

Sponsorship

Providing sponsorship to a charity or to a charitable event is not a gift, and a charity generally cannot issue a receipt for sponsorship.

What constitutes sponsorship?

Sponsorship is when a business makes a donation to a charity and, in return, receives advertising or promotion of its brand, products or services.

How can a registered charity thank a business for its donation and still issue that business an official donation receipt?

A charity is certainly allowed to thank its donors. If a business receives the same level of recognition as all other donors, with no special treatment, and the recognition is nominal, this usually constitutes a simple acknowledgment, and a receipt may be issued for the full amount of the donation.

However, while a simple “thank you” is not an advantage, advertising is. If a business receives special recognition for its donation, or if it receives more than nominal recognition (for example, banners, advertising of products), this usually constitutes sponsorship.

It is difficult, if not impossible to establish a fair market value for sponsorship, and when the fair market value cannot be determined, a receipt cannot be issued.

References:

  • CSP-C13, Consideration
  • CSP-P14, Pledges
  • CSP-S13, Sponsorship
  • Registered Charities Newsletter No. 22 – Spring 2005