It depends on many factors.  If our law firm is used and the organization is starting from scratch then it typically is between $5000 – $15,000.   There is a big difference between a charity that will only make grants to other registered charities versus an operating charity for example that will carry out health care work in Canada or poverty relief in the developing world.

To set up a charity in Canada usually involves the preparation of documents for the incorporation, organization of the charity, and an application for charitable status with the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  As a result of a backlog in CRA applications, the whole process of incorporation, organization and application for charitable status typically takes about 4 -6 months for a simple foundation charity and about 6-8 months for an operating charity application. All of these timelines are as of the date the charity application is filed with CRA.

Often it is best to start off with a consultation – we just charge normal hourly rates and at that consultation we can discuss many different issues relating to the charity, whether and how it should be set up and after that meeting you can decide how you want to proceed.  A consultation is typically about 1 hour in length and costs about $500.  

Keep in mind that the cost to establish (incorporate and organize) a Canadian non-profit that does not have registered charity status typically costs between $2000-3000 for legal fees and about $300 for disbursements.   The process can take as little as a week to complete. The cost depends on the number of hours involved.  There is however a big difference between just setting up a non-profit like a business association or amateur athletic group compared to a non-profit that may one day become a registered charity.