Charities

Charities and the limits of political action under the Harper government

July 31st, 2014 by Brian Iler

Environmental Defence. PEN Canada. Amnesty International Canada. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Canada Without Poverty. The David Suzuki Foundation.

What do these organizations have in common — aside from all doing great work?

All are registered charities.

All have been publicly critical of Stephen Harper’s government.

And all are undergoing audits of their political activities by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

What’s this about? Here’s what you need to know.

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Canada Revenue Agency’s Guidance: How to Draft Purposes for Charitable Registration (CG 019)

August 12th, 2013 by Ted Hyland

On July 25, 2013, the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) issued policy guidance on how to draft purposes clauses for charitable registration. At the same time, CRA also issued revised Model Purposes clauses.

The Guidance will apply to new applicants for charitable registration, existing registered charities that are seeking to change their charitable purposes and, undoubtedly, will be used by CRA in auditing registered charities and assessing their eligibility for ongoing registration.

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Client Profile: Architectural Conservancy of Ontario

July 17th, 2013 by Iler Campbell

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The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario is a charity with the goal of helping communities preserve buildings and structures of architectural merit and places of natural beauty and interest. Their activities include advocacy and activism, the commissioning of studies and reports as well as public outreach and education programs. Twice yearly they publish ACORN, a magazine devoted to preservation issues of province-wide interest . Their PreservationWorks! program sends experts to assess and report on heritage properties and can assist in gaining public support, warn of structural issues and suggest preservation strategies. And their Historic Architectural Linking Program connects prospective purchasers with vacant, at-risk heritage properties. The Conservancy has 24 branches across Ontario. Branch activities include lectures, tours and advocacy and restoration of heritage properties.

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The evolving world of social finance in Ontario

December 7th, 2012 by Brian Iler and Laura Bowman

Social enterprises can find it difficult to raise capital from community‑minded investors.  Even in the non “social enterprise” sector, most capital for small and startup enterprises is still raised from friends and family rather than banks, wealthy investors or other more traditional sources.

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Anti-Spam Legislation and Non-profits and Charities – Are you ready?

November 5th, 2012 by Ted Hyland

Preparations continue to lay the groundwork for the coming into force of Canada’s anti‑spam law.1  On October 10, 2012, the CRTC published two information guidelines regarding the legislation: Guidelines on the interpretation of the Electronic Commerce Protection Regulations (CRTC) (CRTC Guideline 2012‑548) and Guidelines on the use of toggling as a means of obtaining express consent under Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CRTC Guideline 2012‑549).

The background to the CRTC Guidelines is that on December 15, 2010, Royal Assent was given to Canada’s anti‑spam law.  A date for the law’s coming into force will be set in the coming months, with the date now expected to be in mid‑2013.  The anti‑spam law will affect any individual, business and organization that:

  • Uses commercial electronic messages;
  • Is involved in the alteration of transmission data; and
  • Produces or installs computer programs.

If you are involved in the operation of a non‑profit or charity why should you care about the anti‑spam law? Increasingly, non‑profit organizations and charities are using electronic means of communicating with people, and the anti‑spam legislation will apply to many, if not all, of those electronic messages. How so?

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  1. An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act, S.C. 2010, c. 23.

Small and Rural Charities Initiative Update

October 15th, 2012 by Laura Bowman

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) completed its Joint Action Plan as part of the Small and Rural Charities Initiative.  The recommendations include more community-based, in-person service for small and rural charities through the development of community partnerships with umbrella groups, universities, or colleges, where feasible and providing a list of services available to charities in their communities (such as municipal benefits, pro-bono university legal services, etc.).  The CRA may also consider developing and distributing educational products, including a Roadshow (Charity Information Session) DVD to small and rural charities, as well as to newly registered charities, non-compliant charities, and other charities upon request.  The CRA will also consider promoting the development of community networks, to enable small and rural charities to communicate, share best practices, and learn from each other.  There is a full chart setting out the recommendations. For more information see the report The Small and Rural Charities: Making a Difference for Canadians.

Rural charities may have limited access to expertise and may need legal advice to get their organization into compliant condition.  Please contact us today to get assistance with CRA issues facing small and rural charities.