Glossary:

(1) | A (9) | B (5) | C (10) | D (11) | E (4) | F (5) | G (5) | J (2) | K (1) | L (3) | M (4) | N (2) | O (1) | P (6) | Q (2) | R (4) | S (76) | T (2) | U (2) | W (1)
  • Eligible amount

    The eligible amount is the part of a gift for which a charity can issue a tax receipt. Generally, this is the amount by which the fair market value of the gift exceeds the amount of any advantage given in respect of the donation.

  • Eligible Director

    An individual is eligible to serve as a Director of a charity, unless the individual:

    • has been found guilty of a relevant criminal offence for which the individual has not received a pardon; 
    • has been found guilty of a relevant offence in the last five years; 
    • was a director, trustee or like official of a charity or RCAAA during a period in which the charity was engaged in conduct that constituted a serious breach of the requirements for registration, for which its registration was revoked in the past five years; 
    • controlled or managed a charity or association during a period in which the charity was engaged in conduct that constituted a serious breach of the requirements for registration for which its registration was revoked in the past five years; or 
    • has been a promoter of a tax shelter that involved a gift to a registered charity or RCAAA the registration of which was revoked within the last five years for participation in the tax shelter.
  • Eligible donee

    Generally, an eligible donee is a registered charity that is in good standing with the Canada Revenue Agency, and that has more than half of its directors at arm's length with each of the directors of the charity gifting to it.

  • Fair market value

    Fair market value is usually the highest dollar value that can be obtained for a property in an open and unrestricted market and between a willing buyer and a willing seller, both of whom are knowledgeable, informed, and acting independently of each other.

  • Financial information

    Financial information includes:

    • annual financial statements,
    • copies of official donation receipts,
    • copies of annual information returns (Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return),
    • general ledgers,
    • bank statements,
    • revenue and expense account details,
    • documents supporting GST/HST/QST filings,
    • investment agreements and monthly reports,
    • all records concerning 10-year gifts,
    • accountant's working papers,
    • payroll records,
    • annual reports, and
    • fundraising materials.

    For more information on financial documents, see Keeping financial records.

  • Financial statements

    At a minimum, financial statements consist of a statement of assets and liabilities and a statement of revenue and expenditures for the fiscal period. They should show the different sources of a registered charity's revenue and how it spent its money.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Fiscal period

    A fiscal period is the 12 months (or, for incorporated charities, a period of up to 53 weeks) covered by the charity's financial statements. Many registered charities have a fiscal period that is the same as the calendar year (that is, their fiscal period is from January 1 to December 31); others have a different fiscal period (for example, ending August 31 or March 31).

    The fiscal period end is always stated as month and day only (for example, March 31). The year is not included because, unless formally changed, the fiscal period stays the same year after year. The phrase "fiscal period ending" does include the year because it identifies one specific fiscal period that ends in that year.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • General ledger

    The general ledger is the main financial record for summarizing all of an organization’s financial transactions, and is the basis for preparing all of its finanical statements and reports.

  • Gift

    Generally, a gift is a voluntary transfer of property to a charity that is intended to enrich the charity.

    A service (that is, providing time, skill or effort) is not property and, therefore, is not a gift.

  • Gift Cards and Certificates

    Gift cards or certificates are often donated to charities and are commonly used in fundraising activities such as silent auctions.

    Tax receipts cannot be issued for a gift card or certificate if the donor is the business that issued it and if the gift card or certificate is redeemed by a third party (for example, by someone who purchased it in a silent auction). In this case, the gift card or certificate is considered only to be a promise by the business to give merchandise sometime in the future (that is, when the gift card is actually redeemed). Until then, there has been no gift of property. If the charity itself redeems the gift card or certificate for goods (not services), then a receipt may be issued, as the donor (the business) has then fulfilled its promise and transferred property to the charity.

    Tax receipts may be issued if the person who donates the gift card or certificate purchased it from the issuer and then donates it to a charity. Once purchased, the gift card or certificate is considered to be property and, if donated to a charity, is eligible for a tax receipt.

    The following table illustrates when a tax receipt may be issued in exchange for a gift card or certificate donated to a registered charity:

     

    Redeemed by ...

    Charity 3rd party

    Donated by ...

    Issuer (a business) Issue tax receipt Do not issue tax receipt
    3rd party Issue tax receipt Issue tax receipt

    Example 1: A book store donates one of its gift cards to a charity for use in its auction. Because the gift card is only considered to be a promise at the time of the donation, a tax receipt cannot be issued.

    When the card is redeemed by whoever purchased it at the auction, the charity still cannot issue a receipt. This is because the redemption transaction is between the book store and the purchaser. The charity is not involved in this transaction (and specifically does not receive any donation as part of the transaction), so no tax receipt can be issued.

    Example 2: A person buys a gift certificate for cooking classes from the cooking school and then donates it to a charity for use in its auction. The donor can receive a tax receipt for the full amount of the gift certificate because it is now considered to be property. The person who is giving the cooking classes does not get a receipt from the charity.

    See 'Gift certificates or gift cards' (CRA, 2014)

  • Gift in kind

    A gift in kind is a gift other than cash.

  • Governing documents

    These are the documents that formally establish an organization and govern its operations. Some examples of governing documents are :

    • letters patent
    • certificate of incorporation
    • memorandum or articles of association
    • constitution
    • trust documents
    • bylaws
    • written copies of minutes of directors’ meetings
    • written copies of minutes of annual general meetings of members
    • annual reports to government and any other regulatory agencies (for example, a T3010 filing or audited financial statements)
  • James Finlay

    James started his accounting career in 1996 gaining his first diploma in Canada. He then moved to the UK where he gained his accounting designation. Whilst in the UK he also obtained his Certification with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, an organization committed to fighting fraud worldwide. He returned back to Canada and has since worked in manufacturing, a non-profit charity in the health sector and now is the president of Finlay & Associates a small business who provides various accounting and fraud related services. His clients range from manufacturing, service type and non-profits.

    He has been volunteering for the last 18 years in positions such as Probation Officer, Income Tax Officer, Treasurer and Board Director. He is currently a volunteer Director of Finance with Hamilton Extend A Family. Established in 1980, they have been extending a helping hand to kids with developmental delays, physical challenges or emotional and behavioral problems

    James has memberships with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Institute of Internal Auditors, The Guild of Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Accountants and has a Fellow Membership with the Association of Accounting Technicians.   

  • John M. Hodgson Q.C. (1921-2011)

    John M. Hodgson Q.C. was an expert in Canadian estate and trust law, was a tireless advocate of the vital social role played by Canada's volunteer and charitable sectors. He made exceptional contributions to the charitable sector in Canada through leadership in charitable law to co-founding the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy (one of Imagine Canada’s predecessor organizations). A champion of knowledge and educational services to charities and nonprofits, he co-founded The Philanthropist journal. In particular, at Imagine Canada, John was a visionary and supported the development and sustainability of the Nonprofit Library and our National Engagement Strategy through the Agora Foundation. Imagine Canada proudly designated John M. Hodgson, Q.C. as the first Patron of Imagine Canada in December 2010, recognizing his outstanding service to Canada’s charities, his role as co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and his generous support to Imagine Canada

  • Kinds of property

    • Tangible property (property that a person can touch)
      • real property (land and attached buildings)
      • capital property (property that is purchased with the intention of holding or using it, rather than reselling it)
        • depreciable property (property that is expected to be used, generally in a business, over a number of years)
        • personal use property (property generally used by a person, not in a business context)
          • listed personal property (specifically identified property that is expected to increase in value over time, such as various types of collections)
          • other personal use property
        • other capital property
      • non-capital property (inventories of goods held for resale)
    • Intangible property (that is, property that has no physical form)
      • securities and investments
        • qualifying securities (generally, securities that are traded on a stock exchange)
        • non-qualifying securities (securities that are not traded on a stock exchange)
      • interests in tangible property
        • leasehold interests (the right to possess and use a property for a period of time, through a lease)
        • residual interests (the remaining rights to a property after the current owner continues to possess and use it; these rights are usually created in a will)
      • intellectual property (trademarks, patents, licenses, and so on)
      • other legal rights and intangibles
  • Linda Graff

    Linda Graff has been working and consulting in the nonprofit sector since 1980. She is a voluntary sector and risk management specialist, an impassioned advocate for the field of volunteer program management, and a dynamic and in-demand international trainer.

    Website: www.lindagraff.ca (which includes information on how to order her excellent risk management books)

  • Listed personal property

    Description: Certain kinds of property that are intended for personal use or enjoyment and that typically increase in value over time.

    Examples: Jewellery, stamp and coin collections, and artwork.

    It is often difficult to establish a fair market value for listed personal property since many items are unique. To determine a value for these items, it is usually best to check with an appropriate dealer or to get a formal appraisal.

    If the estimated value of the property is more than $1,000, it is strongly recommended that you have the property appraised to support the value for tax receipt purposes.

    Special case: If your charity receives a gift of art or cultural property that is deemed to be of national significance and is donated by someone other than its creator, you should have it certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board.

  • Lottery or raffle tickets

    CRA considers that donors who buy lottery or raffle tickets do so primarily because they want a chance to win the prizes that are offered and not because they want to make a donation to the charity that is holding the event. Therefore it does not allow tax receipts to be issued.

  • Marcel Lauzière

    President and CEO, Imagine Canada

    Marcel LauzièreMarcel has also served as Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in New Zealand, as President of the Canadian Council on Social Development, as Special Advisor to the President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and as Founding Executive Director of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

    Marcel Lauzière is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to philanthropy in Canada, and has a Masters degree in Canadian Social History from the University of Ottawa.

  • Marnie Grona

    Director, Marketing & Communications, Imagine Canada

    Marnie GronaMarnie is responsible for the organization’s communications and marketing strategy. Prior to Imagine Canada, she worked at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. She has studied Communications, obtaining dual-specialties in Marketing and Advertising, at the University of Winnipeg and holds a diploma in Arts Management from Confederation College.

  • Minutes

    Minutes are a written record of the matters discussed, and decisions made at a meeting. They are based on notes taken - usually by the individual designated as Secretary - and are generally presented to a subsequent meeting of the same group for approval. Once approved, a copy of the minutes is generally signed by the chair of the meeting that the minutes report on and the secretary who recorded them, to indicate their official status. Minutes should be kept as a permanent record, and are often kept in a minute book.

  • Mission Statement - Standard A1 Explained

    What is a mission statement and why is it important? A mission statement is a short, written statement that describes the core purpose of the organization including what it does, for whom and why. The mission statement should be sufficient to guide the strategies and actions of an organization, describe its overall goal, provide a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. 1

    In order to effectively govern a nonprofit organization, the board of directors must have a clear understanding of the organization’s mandate. This is provided by the mission statement, which presents an organization’s primary purpose or goals. A mission statement tells the world why your organization exists. 2 Everything an organization does should align with its mission. Boards must review their organization’s mission statement regularly to ensure that it continues to express the organization’s highest aims and commitments. 3 Effective reviews of the mission statement should always involve the full board as well as the Executive Director or most senior staff person.3

    A great mission statement:

    • is concise and easy to understand
    • distinguishes your organization from others with a similar mandate
    • inspires others to support your organization’s important work

    From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section A: Board Governance,"  Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.

    1. “Standards Program Definitions,” Imagine Canada, May 2011 
    2. “Strategic Planning: Train the Trainer Workshop Handout,” Cathy Brothers, 2012 
    3. Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties, and Practices,” Industry Canada, 2002
  • Non-profit organization

    A non-profit organization is an association, club, or society that is operated exclusively for social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure, recreation, or any other purpose except profit. It is not a charity. No part of the organization's income can be payable to or available for the personal benefit of any proprietor, member, or shareholder, unless the recipient is a club, society, or association whose primary purpose and function is to promote amateur athletics in Canada.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Non-qualifying security

    A non-qualifying security is, generally, a security where the owner of the security (e.g. a shareholder) is not at arm's length with the issuer of the security (e.g. a private company).  A charity can issue a tax receipt to the donor of a non-qualifying security in some circumstances.  The charity should get professional (legal, accounting or tax) help when someone intends to make this kind of gift.

  • Official donation receipt

    Registered charities may issue an official donation receipt (or "tax receipt") to acknowledge a gift. An official donation receipt is subject to particular requirements under the Income Tax Act including identification that it is an official receipt for income tax purposes. Registered charities can also issue other forms of receipts to acknowledge receipt of services or other items that are not gifts. These are not tax receipts and should be clearly distinguished from the tax receipts issued to acknowledge gifts.

  • Official donation receipt

    Registered charities can issue official donation receipts (also referred to as "tax receipts") to acknowledge gifts. An official donation receipt is subject to particular requirements under the Income Tax Regulations including identification that it is an official receipt for income tax purposes.

    Note that registered charities issue other forms of receipts to acknowledge acceptance of services or items that are not gifts. These are not tax receipts and should be clearly distinguished from the tax receipts issued to acknowledge gifts. Contributions of services, that is, of time, skills or efforts, are not property and, therefore, do not qualify as gifts for purposes of issuing official donation receipts. Accordingly, a charity cannot issue an official donation receipt for services rendered free of charge.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Partisan political activities

    Political activities are partisan if they directly or indirectly support or oppose a political party or candidate for public office.

  • Partisan political activities - examples

    In the following hypothetical examples, the charity is called Healthy Retirement and was formed to promote the health of seniors in Canada. It has received a lot of media attention on its recently released, well-reasoned position on the hazards for seniors of using marked crosswalks. It concludes from its findings that a senior is four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident with a car at a marked crosswalk than at an intersection with a stop sign or a light.

    Example 1 — Supporting an election candidate in the charity's newsletter

    Healthy Retirement sends a newsletter to all its members that contains an editorial from the managing director of the charity conveying his views on the main issues it is currently facing. Just before an election, the director uses the column to give his personal support to the re-election of a candidate who happens to endorse a policy that the charity also supports. The director uses his personal funds to pay for that edition of the newsletter. In this case, the charity is engaging in a prohibited partisan political activity because although the director paid for that edition of the newsletter, it is an official publication of the charity and is being used to promote a candidate for an election.

    Example 2 — Distributing leaflets highlighting lack of government support for charity goals

    Healthy Retirement decides to distribute leaflets to members of the public during a federal election campaign. The leaflets highlight its research findings that drivers do not respect the pedestrian right-of-way at marked crosswalks. It also states that a private members bill that proposed to increase the penalties imposed on drivers failing to give the right-of-way to pedestrians at marked crosswalks did not become law because government-side Members of Parliament voted against it. In this case, the distribution of the leaflets is a prohibited partisan political activity because it could mobilize public opinion against the current government for failing to enact the private members bill.

    Whatever the issue, a charity is not permitted to directly or indirectly support or oppose any political party or candidate for public office, at any level of government.

    Had the charity merely published a leaflet that showed how all the Members of Parliament voted on the private members bill, CRA would not have viewed this as a partisan political activity.

    Example 3 — Preparing dinner for campaign organizers of a political party

    During a provincial election campaign, Healthy Retirement invites, to one of its monthly "heart smart" dinners, all those involved in organizing the campaign for a political party that promotes policies targeted at increasing health spending on respite care for seniors. The campaign team is treated to a delicious three-course meal that is low in fat and salt, and they receive information about the charity's programs. This is a prohibited partisan political activity because the charity is providing direct support, by way of a free meal, to campaign organizers of a political party.

    Example 4 — Inviting competing election candidates to speak at separate events

    Healthy Retirement invites a candidate in a municipal election, who is in favour of increasing the money available to deliver hot meals to seniors in poor health, to talk about a particular issue on the candidate's electoral platform that is consistent with the charity's goals at its well-attended annual fundraising dinner. At a later date, it invites another candidate in the election to speak at its poorly attended annual general meeting. The charity does not endorse either candidate at either meeting and no political fundraising occurs. Nevertheless, as the charity is not giving an equal opportunity for candidates seeking the same office to speak, it is possible to infer that the charity is indirectly supporting a particular candidate for public office and is therefore engaged in a prohibited partisan political activity. To avoid this assumption, a charity must ensure that in such circumstances, it invites all the candidates in an election to speak at the same time. Furthermore, the charity must give the candidates an equal amount of time to speak on their general platform.

  • Personal use property

    Personal use property refers to items that you own primarily for the personal use or enjoyment of your family and yourself. It includes all personal and household items, such as furniture, automobiles, boats, a cottage, and other similar properties. It also includes listed personal property.

  • Planned giving

    Planned giving is a fundraising program that involves arranging donations to serve the interests of the registered charity and that suits the personal, financial, and tax situation of the individual donor. Through a planned-giving program, a registered charity seeks to attract significant gifts by identifying potential donors and helping them with information and advice.

    Examples of planned giving include bequests, annuities, life insurance policies, and residual interests or charitable remainder trusts.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Pledges

    A pledge is a promise to make a donation in the future. It is not a gift until the charity actually receives the donation. Therefore, no receipt can be issued until the donor has fulfilled the pledge by making a donation.

    See also 'Pledges' (CRA, 2011)

  • Private foundation

    • is established as a corporation or a trust;
    • has exclusively charitable purposes;
    • carries on its own charitable activities and/or funds other qualified donees, (e.g., registered charities);
    • may have 50% or more of its governing officials not at arm's lengthwith each other;
    • generally receives the majority of its funding from a donor or a group of donors that are not at arm's length; and
    • its income cannot be used for the personal benefit of any of its members, shareholders, or governing officials.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Public foundation

    • is established as a corporation or a trust;
    • has exclusively charitable purposes;
    • generally gives more than 50% of its income annually to other qualified donees, (e.g., registered charities), but it may carry out some of its own charitable activities;
    • more than 50% of its governing officials must be at arm's length with each other;
    • generally receives its funding from a variety of arm's length donors; and
    • its income cannot be used for the personal benefit of any of its members, shareholders, or governing officials.

    (CRA : Charities Glossary)

  • Qualified donee

    Qualified donees are generally organizations that can issue official tax receipts for gifts.

  • Qualifying security

    A qualifying security is a security that is traded on a recognized stock exchange. The donation of a qualifying security is eligible for a tax receipt.

  • Real Property

    Description: Land, and buildings or other structures permanently attached to land.

    Examples: A family home, a cottage, or a vacant piece of land.

    The value of real property for tax receipt purposes is its fair market value. You should almost always get an appraisal or valuation from a professional real estate appraiser to support the gift.

    Real property located in Canada is not subject to the deemed fair market value rule, but property outside Canada is.

    Special case: For gifts of ecologically sensitive land, you should refer to the Canadian Ecological Gifts Program.

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