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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Clubine

Advancement of Education as a Charitable Purpose

Updated: Jul 4

person sitting at a table in a library doing research with a bunch of books

Under Canadian law, there are four heads of charity that an organization must fall under to be considered charitable. The four heads are: relief of poverty, advancement of education, advancement of religion, or other purposes beneficial to the community in a way the law considers charitable. This post is part of a series on each of the four heads of charity. In this post, we dive deeper into advancement of education as a charitable purpose and the activities that align with it.

What is education under charity law?

Education as a general term is broad, but it becomes more limited in charity law. For education to be considered charitable in Canada, it must fall somewhere within the following three categories: an organization is providing knowledge or developing abilities through intentional teaching or training, conducting research that will improve a branch of human knowledge, or by providing the necessary means for individuals to receive an education.

Intentional teaching or training as a charitable purpose

This category includes traditional classroom teaching and training through seminars, workshops, and self-study. Importantly, education in a charitable sense is not only for children and youth, but also includes continuing education for adults. It can also include forms of education other than a traditional classroom environment, such as educational workshops/seminars for the general public. Organizations that educate people in life skills such as financial education, basic vehicle maintenance, or learning a second language can be considered charitable. For teaching to be considered charitable, it is necessary that the content being taught meets the Canada Revenue Agency criteria and that it is not promoting a biased point of view. This means that the content being taught must be useful and provide value to the public.

Conducting research to improve a branch of human knowledge as a charitable purpose

For research to be considered charitable, there are five requirements. The research being conducted must: (1) further the organization’s charitable purpose, (2) the subject must have educational value and can be thoroughly researched, (3) be conducted properly in a way that could lead to a discovery or improvement of knowledge, (4) be conducted with the primary benefit being for the public and not for self-interest, and finally, (5) be publicly available for any individuals who want to access it.

Providing the necessary means to receive an education as a charitable purpose

The courts in Canada do recognize that advancement to education is not limited to teaching or training, but that providing individuals with the means to receive their education can also advance education. Consequently, building and maintaining schools, providing scholarships to students, and providing students or schools with necessary books and equipment can all qualify as charitable activities. Education through sports can also fall into this category. While the promotion of sport itself is not charitable, educating students about sport by providing equipment and facilities can be. Operating community groups and clubs for children is also considered charitable because teaching youth about teamwork and life skills is considered a valuable skill. Similarly, publicly accessible museums and libraries are another way to provide the public with learning resources, without having to acquire them on their own.


Advancement of education can be accomplished through traditional classroom-style teaching, but also through other modes of instruction, through research, or by providing the necessary tools and support for learning. In any case, the content must not be biased, and it must be a useful branch of knowledge that will provide a benefit to the general public.

Outsiders Law has extensive knowledge when it comes to the charity application process. We help organizations who want to become registered charities under the category of advancement of education. If your organization is interested in this, please contact us.


The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal, professional, or tax advice. Please contact us directly if you require legal assistance.

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