General FAQs

  • How can I determine what Level of the Standards my organization needs to adhere to?

    You can determine what Standards Level your organization will need to adhere to by using the following table:

    Standards Level

    Size of Organization

    Level 1

    Organizations with up to 10 FTE employees and up to $3 million in annual expenses.

    Level 2

    Organizations with up to 50 FTE employees and up to $10 million in annual expenses.

    Level 3

    Organizations with more than 50 FTE employees or over $10 million in annual expenses.

    Use your average expenses, including gifts to qualified donees, over the last 3 years. Charities should use the amount on line 5100 of their Registered Charity Information Return (T3010).

    Use your Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees over the last 3 years. The definition of full-time employment can vary from one organization to another but is generally defined as between 35 and 40 hours of work per week, 52 weeks per year.

  • I believe an organization that has been accredited has violated the Standards, what should I do?

    Organizations that have been accredited through the Imagine Canada Standards Program are required to comply with all Standards in order to maintain their accreditation. If you feel that an accredited organization is not operating in compliance with the Standards, you can register a complaint by completing and submitting our Complaints Form. Complaints are reviewed by a Complaints Committee that is at arm’s length from Imagine Canada. For more information on how to submit a complaint and what happens once a complaint has been registered, download our Complaints Policy.

  • What are the mission and goals of the Standards Program?


    To build excellence within Canada’s charities and nonprofits through common standards of practice and to strengthen confidence in the sector.


    • Help Canadian charities and nonprofits improve their practices in five foundation areas: board governance, financial accountability & transparency, fundraising, staff management, and volunteer involvement.
    • Increase the transparency of charities and nonprofits in these foundational areas.
    • Recognize organizations that meet the standards.
    • Strengthen public confidence in individual charitable and nonprofit organizations and the sector as a whole.
  • What resources and supports are available for organizations that choose to join the Standards Program and move through the accreditation process?

    There are a variety of resources available to assist organizations at all stages of the accreditation process. Imagine Canada’s publicly available online tool, Sector Source, connects charities and nonprofits with resources and information related to each of the standards. These resources (available in both French and English) include: policy templates, manuals, guides, checklists, articles, and workbooks. Standards Program participants are also eligible to borrow books from the Sector Source library collection, one of the largest and most extensive of its kind in Canada.

    Sector Source also contains a unique feature known as The Standards Explained under each standard in the Standards Reference Guide which provides more detailed and useful information for each of the Imagine Canada standards.

    Standards Program participants also enjoy access to the unique online community of practice housed within the Standards Portal. This is an opportunity for organizations to post their questions related to their standards application, access other unique resources reserved solely for Program participants (including webinars and training materials), and connect with peers in the sector to share best practices in organizational development.

  • Where can I find a list of accredited organizations?

    A complete list of accredited organizations can be found on the Imagine Canada website. Check back often, as the list of charities and nonprofits that have been accredited through Imagine Canada’s Standards Program continues to grow!

  • Who oversees the Standards Program?

    Imagine Canada’s volunteer Board of Directors is legally responsible for the Standards Program and in this capacity, its key responsibilities are to approve Program policies and procedures; approve participation fees; approve Program budget; establish the Standards Council and its terms of reference; and appoint 3 individuals to serve on the Standards Council.

    The Standards Council is responsible for recommending Program policies and procedures to the Imagine Canada board; approving the Standards; recommending participation fees to the Imagine Canada board; establishing terms of reference for peer review panels; appointing members of peer review panels; and reviewing and rendering decisions on complaints about Program participants. The composition of the Standards Council is currently determined through appointments by Imagine Canada’s Board and election by the Founding Members.