Canadian charities can spend resources on charitable activities, political activities, fundraising activities, administration and other (eg. social). Except for charitable activities their are restrictions and limitations on how much a Canadian charity can do. Some activities which involve political elements may be prohibited or allowable political activities or in fact charitable activities.
Here is an excerpt from CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022
“6. What kinds of activities can a charity participate in?
Although an organization established for a political purpose cannot be registered as a charity, a registered charity may take part in some political activities as a way of furthering its charitable purpose(s). However, charities do not have complete freedom to support any cause they like. Special legal rules apply to charities because of their charitable and tax statuses.
A charity wishing to carry out activities that go beyond the limits permitted by the Act may establish a separate and distinct organization that will not be a registered charity and therefore not able to issue charitable receipts. No limitations are placed on the political activities of such a body; it has complete freedom within the law to support any cause it chooses. But the charity cannot fund that separate organization or make resources available to it for any otherwise impermissible political activity.
For the purposes of this policy, a charity’s activities can be divided into three separate types:
1. prohibited activities
2. political activities
3. charitable activities”
Here is a link to CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022 http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html
As well here is a copy in PDF of the CRA Policy Statement on Political Activities by Canadian Charities CPS-022 - September 2, 2003 so that you can download it easily to your computer.
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.