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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Clubine

Charity Intelligence Canada: Informing Donors and Providing Transparency

Updated: Jul 4


group of volunteers collecting donations for their charitable organization

Are you looking for insight to decide which charities you can make your end-of-donations to? You have a few options other than relying on Google, year-end appeals, or word of mouth. If you have a specific charity in mind, you can look it up on the Canada Revenue Agency’s List of Charities. Every one of Canada’s 86,000+ charities are listed here, along with basic information about each charity’s activities and spending. This data is collected annually from the T3010 “Registered Charity Information Return” which charities fill out annually. The CRA List of Charities is a great source for information, but its search functions are not conducive to finding charities that you do not already know about. 

 

Canada Helps 

An alternative to the CRA List of Charities that helps you find charities to donate to is Canada Helps. Canada Helps is a widely used fundraising and donation platform for Canadian charities. Over 30,000 of Canada’s 86,000 charities have Canada Helps profiles. Many include details about the organization and its charitable activities. Canada Helps has a strong search engine that allows you to find out about new charities through well-built filters. However, Canada Helps does not offer detailed reporting. It provides a very basic summary of some of data pulled from the CRA website, but Canada Helps does not conduct data collection of its own. In summary, Canada Helps can help you find and donate to charities, but it won’t help you find out much about them. You can use it alongside the CRA website and/or a charity’s own website.  

 

Charity Intelligence Canada 

Another alternative is Charity Intelligence Canada (“CIC”), a Canadian organization that provides free detailed reports on over 800 major charities across the country. CIC conducts independent research on these charities and publishes reports on their revenues, their demonstrated impact, years of reserve funds available, and percentage of funds that are used for front-line activities. This reporting allows donors to make informed decisions when making donations. While 800 charities is a large number, it is less than 1% of all the charities in Canada! Organizations that are not highlighted on Charity Intelligence Canada are not any less effective than others. Simply put, CIC cannot research and review every charity in Canada—there are far too many! That said, the ones that CIC does research may be more familiar to donors, and the reports provided by CIC can give donors confidence in the charities they choose to donate to.  

 

Which Alberta Charities were included in the 2023 Top 100 Charities list? 

CIC publishes a list of “The Top 100 Charities” each year. The list for 2023 included sixteen Alberta-based charities, with twelve based out of Calgary. Being a Calgary-based law firm, we wanted to highlight these organizations for their amazing work. The Alberta based organizations outsider of Calgary are: 


  • Edmonton’s Food Bank,  

  • Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge,  

  • Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton, and  

  • United Way of Alberta Capital Region.  

 

The Calgary specific organizations are: 


  • Calgary Humane Society,

  • Calgary Food Bank,  

  • Simon House,  

  • Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS),  

  • Alberta Wilderness Association,  

  • Calgary Homeless Foundation,  

  • University of Calgary,  

  • Operation Eyesight Universal,  

  • RESET Society of Calgary,  

  • Fear Is Not Love,  

  • Discovery House, and  

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary & Area.   

For Albertans looking to support local charities, any of these organizations would be a wonderful place to start! Further information on each organization can be found on the Charity Intelligence Canada site, or by visiting the individual websites for each organization.  

 

Using Charity Intelligence Canada as a guide 

Charity Intelligence Canada can work as a guide for new charities, helping them be more transparent with their donors from the start. By understanding what Charity Intelligence Canada are looking for while conducting their research, new charities can ensure they are publicly reporting on these facts and figures right off the bat. This will assist in developing strong governance and accountability, a strong reputation with donors, and perhaps the chance of being listed on the Top 100 someday! If donors can see how their donations are being used, they will be more likely to contribute on a regular basis. Using Charity Intelligence Canada as a framework for public reporting is an effective way to build trust among organizations and their donors.  

 

Conclusion 

The CRA List of Charities, Canada Helps, and Charity Intelligence Canada are excellent tools for donors and charitable organizations alike. Collectively, they can provide donors with the information required to make educated decisions, while also providing a framework that charities can follow for public reporting. If donors are properly informed, they can ensure their donations are going to a worthy cause. As a result, organizations who do not provide public reporting are incentivized to become more open and transparent with their finances.  

 

Outsiders Law has extensive knowledge when it comes to the charity application process and compliance obligations. If you are interested in registering as a charity or undertaking a review to ensure your charity is compliant with its many obligations, connect with one of our lawyers to discuss how you can set your organization up for success.  


Disclaimer

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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