Why is it essential that all fundraising activities conducted by or on behalf of charitable or nonprofit organizations:
a. be truthful – The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Donor Bill of Rights states that any donor to a charitable or nonprofit organization has the right to “ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.”1 In addition, CRA may deem any untruthful statements made in the course of fundraising to constitute “deceptive fundraising,” which can lead to legal sanctions or the revocation of charitable status.2
b. accurately describe the organization’s activities – Donors want to know how their funds will be used, and being able to demonstrate the relationship between your organization’s activities and its impact in the community fosters increased understanding, engagement, and trust between your organization and its donors.
c. disclose the organization’s name – CRA states that organizations must not misrepresent the charity which will receive solicited donations.2 As such, all fundraising activities must clearly present the name of the organization that will receive the funds being collected.
d. disclose the purpose for which funds are requested – The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Donor Bill of Rights states that any donor to a charitable or nonprofit organization has the right to “be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purpose.”1 In addition, Alberta’s Charitable Fundraising Act 9(1) states that organizations must make information on how donations will be spent available to any person who requests it.3 Understanding why funds are being requested, both in terms of the impact an organization seeks and the specific activities that will be undertaken to achieve this impact helps donors to make informed choices regarding which organizations to support.
e. disclose the organization’s policy with respect to issuing Official Income Tax receipts including any policy on minimum amounts for which a receipt will be issued – Disclosing your organization’s policy with respect to issuing Official Income Tax receipts is a good practice as it avoids misleading donors who may believe they will be able to claim a gift that in reality they will not be able to claim. If your organization, for example, only issues Official Income Tax receipts for donations over $50, being clear and upfront with potential donors about this policy helps to avoid misunderstanding, which can be damaging to relationships and negatively impact future fundraising efforts.
f. disclose, upon request, whether the individual or entity seeking donations is a volunteer, employee or contracted third party – CRA requires that all fundraising organizations disclose whether those soliciting funds are internal staff, volunteers, or third-party fundraisers. Potential donors also have a right to know how fundraisers are compensated and what percentage of charitable funds will go to charitable work.2
From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section C: Fundraising," Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.
- “A Donor Bill of Rights,” Association of Fundraising Professionals.
- “Fundraising by Registered Charities: Guidance,” Canada Revenue Agency, April 20th 2012.
- Charitable Fundraising Act, Province of Alberta, Alberta Queen’s Printer, November 1st 2010.