Charity Data

Blumbergs

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the information CharityData.ca come from?

Every year charities in Canada file the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return which is commonly called the T3010 or 'annual return'. Most of the T3010 contains publicly available information that is made available by the Charities Directorate on the CRA website to the public. All of the information on CharityData.ca is provided to us by the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency based on the T3010 filings. It is provided on this website "as is". You can directly access information on each Canadian registered charity on the CRA website. Please review our disclaimer as there may be a number of issues with the CRA data which is provided by charities and not verified at all by CRA.

When was the CharityData.ca website created?

Our law firm Blumbergs Segal launched the website in August of 2016.

I want to grant to another registered charity. Can I use this website to verify that an organization is a registered charity with CRA?

No. You should use the CRA's Charities Listing.

Why is this information publicly available?

Organizations can apply to become registered charities. If they are a registered charity the receive a number of significant tax, reputational and other benefits. The Income Tax Act requires that registered charities under the Income Tax Act file their T3010 within 6 months of their fiscal year end the CRA makes available the public part of the form. There is also confidential information on the T3010 that the CRA does not make available to the public.

When is this information updated?

The information is updated every six months to a year. No guarantee but that is typically how often we update it on CharityData.ca. Charities are required to file their T3010s within six months of the end of their fiscal year. Even when a Canadian registered charity files their T3010 on time their information may not be inputted on the CRA's own database system for a number of months. Canadian Charities can pick their own for fiscal year when they are registered and many do not have a calendar year end and therefore typically the complete information on a particular calendar year for all registered charities will not be available for at least 1 to 1 1/2 years after the end of that calendar year. It may take us a further six months to a year to upload that information. The information on CharityData.ca also reflects a point in time ie. The end of the charity's fiscal year. The current information may be very different and in some cases the charity may not even be operating any more. If it is important to have up to date information you should visit the CRA Charities Listing or contact the charity directly.

I have just filed my T3010 return with CRA but that information is not shown on this website?

For the most up to date information you can directly access information on each Canadian registered charity on the CRA website. Even CRA can be delayed by 2-3 months. One hint is if you want your most up-to-date information to be available to the public file your T3010 early - don't wait till 6 months after the fiscal year end. Keep in mind that this is especially important for charities with a December 31 year who need to file by June 30 each year. Try filing in May or early June or your T3010 may be part of a pile that takes 3-4 months to input and be available on the CRA system. Furthermore, as of November 2018 Canadian charities will be able to file electronically which will assist in speeding up the availability of information, reduce costs for CRA and reduce CRA inputting errors. Hopefully many charities will take advantage of that new facility, but it is not mandatory and CRA will accept printed forms. We update the most recent years of the database every 6 months to a year.

How do I get the most up-to-date information?

You visit the CRA's charity listing for the most up-to-date information on a particular Canadian registered charity. The CRA also has on their website all the past T3010 filings of the registered charities that some may find helpful. We only have about 15 years of information. When we occasionally update CharityData.ca we remove charities that are no longer registered charities but it may take a while for that update to take place.

When you are filtering information such as greatest expenditures which year is used?

We use the most up-to-date year for which there is complete data available? So for example in April 2018 we updated the search year to be 2016 T3010 forms for charities with fiscal year ends from January 2016 to December 2016.

Isn't this website just the same as the CRA website?

No. The CRA website is an official website of the Canadian government and can be relied on for example to show that a charity is currently registered charity. It is has fancy logos and nice pictures. Our website relies on past historical information from the CRA and therefore some of the charities on our website may have even lost their registered charity status. We encourage people to check out both websites and in fact we have a link on the bottom of every page to each of the registered charities own CRA page on the CRA website which in some cases will have more up-to-date or extensive information on a particular charity. CharityData.ca has over thirty search or filtering abilities, many of which the CRA Charities Listing does not have. For example, our website allows you to search which directors serve on which charities and the CRA website does not allow for that. Some registered charities give out hundreds of gifts to qualified donees - the CRA sorts them by the order they are provided and we sort them from highest amount to lowest. Do you really want to scroll through hundreds of small donations to see the main large donations of a charity in a particular year? We provide the largest 100 donations in each year from largest to smallest. We have under the tab "fundraising" listed registered charities that have provided a gift to this charity, not just the registered charities that have received a gift from this charity. It makes it much easier to see flows of money within the charity sector. Also we have heard from many people that the user interface on our website is far superior to that of the CRA website but please don't take our word for it check out CharityData.ca for yourself!

Is every piece of information from the T3010 available on this website?

No. The T3010 collects some information that we have not included it on our website. For example, private foundations that have certain investments may have to disclose those investments on a special form relating to excess business holdings. There are only about 20 or 30 organizations that typically file that form and it's available on the Charities Listing if you are interested for a particular private foundation. The Charities Listing has telephone numbers for many charities and we have chosen not to include that on the directory although you can find that information on the Charities Listing "details page" or on the website of many charities.

How do I know which line on the T3010 form the information on Charity data comes from?

Wow you are a geek! If you add ?dev=1 at the end of the URL line when looking at a particular charity you can then see the line numbers that are actually on the T3010.

How do I search for directors on your website?

You can go to Director Search page.If you know the first and last name of the director then enter them in under "First Name" and "Last Name". You can also use only first or last name. If you want to search a corporate trustee such as a bank then put their name in the "Last Name" box such as 'Bank of Nova Scotia' or 'ScotiaTrust'.

Can I search to see who the biggest fundraising Charities are in Saskatchewan?

Yes. Go to Advanced Charity Search page. On the left-hand side under "Province" select "Saskatchewan". In the middle under "Sort Results by" select "Receipted Donations". Then wait a few seconds and you will have a list of the largest or smallest charities in terms of receipted donations depending on whether you have selected "Ascending" or "Descending".

Can I see which Charities spent the largest amount outside of Canada?

Yes. Go to Advanced Charity Search page. In the middle under "Sort Results by" select "Total Expenditures Outside of Canada - Foreign Activities".

Is there a similar website on US Charities?

Unfortunately not at the moment. The IRS has only recently started providing some information on some US charities in electronic form and the quality of the information is low and we're not aware of an American website which sets out similar information. If you find one please don't hesitate to let us know. GuideStar has information on individual US charities but it is available in PDF and not providing a year by your comparison or a director search or being able to sort all of the US charities for example by revenue or foreign activities or number of employees etc. That being said when you look at GuideStar you see that US charities that have to file the Form 990 have to provide far more information than Canadian charities have to provide.

How accurate is this information?

It is often not accurate. It is registered charities that provide the information to CRA and such information may or may not be accurate. Sometimes it is completed hastily by volunteers or paid staff who have no idea what they are doing. Also some questions tend to be harder to answer and less accurate. Many charities don't take the care that they should in completing this form. For more ideas on concerns with the accuracy of the information see our disclaimer.

Are all the organizations listed on Charitydata.ca good organizations?

Absolutely not. They are simply organizations that have been registered since the 1967 by the Canada Revenue Agency. Some of them are great organizations some ok and some are pretty bad. Some have been on the list for over 50 years and have never been audited by the CRA! Check out SmartGiving.ca to learn more about donating to charities and which are good and bad charities. If you are making a major gift and want to pay for due diligence on charities you can contact our law firm. We assist many philanthropists with grantmaking both in Canada and abroad.

I found a mistake on the T3010 - what can I do about it?

If you are a representative of a registered charity and if you notice errors in the CRA information reproduced on this site, you can let CRA know. A charity can file a T1240 (10) Registered Charity Adjustment Request with CRA. If you are just a member of the public you can notify the charity directly by finding their website and contact information either on the CRA website or on the charity's own website. We know that many charities make mistakes on their T3010s and we have written many articles on the topic and encouraged charities to be more careful so we are not that interested in hearing about it! However, if you are successful in getting a charity to correct past errors then please do let us know. As lawyers we have helped some charities in improving their T3010 filings and we offer courses on how charities can more accurately file the T3010 return.

Can you remove my charity as we are not looking for funding from the public?

The registered charities listed on CharityData.ca are uploaded to the website based on information from the Canada Revenue Agency and our system cannot suppress any registered charity whether it is good or bad, whether it's looking for funding today or not, whether it's big or small, whether its forms were accurate or inaccurate. If you contact the CRA and give up your charitable status eventually your charity will be removed from this website.

Do you have any suggestions our registered charity to improve its T3010 filing?

Yes. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Read the T3010 form carefully.
  2. Read the CRA guide.
  3. For larger charities start thinking about the filing about 1.5 years before it is filed. Unless you accurately collect the necessary information you may not be able to complete some questions on the form. For smaller charities start about 3 months after your fiscal year end to complete the form.
  4. With complicated organizations it is really important that it is not just finance or a bookkeeper who completes the form. It should be reviewed by Finance, Programs, Fundraising, Governance, accounting and legal advisors and perhaps even the board before it is filed. It is much easier to file an accurate form than to correct it later.
  5. We and others occasionally offer programs which discuss legal compliance issues including the T3010. You can sign up to our email list to keep up-to-date on developments affecting the T3010 and also CharityData.ca.

How does Canada compare to other countries when it comes to transparency of charity data?

In some ways Canada does a great job. For example, for over 20 years the Charities Directorate of the CRA has provided to anyone for free complete data sets on Canadian registered charities. In other ways as I have noted in the submission to the Finance Department, Canada lags behind other countries in non-profit and charity transparency. For example, the Charities Directorate is not allowed to discuss the affairs of any registered charity unless it has been revoked. In the UK the Charity Commission can discuss inappropriate behaviour of UK registered Charities while they are still on the register. Compared to some other countries Canada collects far less information on individual charities. For example, you could look at the US which collects far more information on its Form 990. I have suggested some additional questions that even if they are voluntary/optional could be helpful for the charity sector.

I am a researcher and I want to search for specific information and this website does not allow me to do it. Can you change your website so it is easier for me to do my job?

No. You can request information from the CRA. You can do your own searches on that information. If you want to hire us to do this we charge $525 per hour, with a minimum charge of $525 dollars even if the search only takes 5 minutes. It is cheaper to do it yourself.

I use CharityData.ca a lot and would like to help with the website. Do you accept volunteers?

We hear that a lot. We are a law firm and no we don't not accept volunteers but thank you for the offer. You can let others know about the website through social media and encourage others to also use it to develop a greater understanding of Canadian charities. If you are large bank or financial institution and want to consider sponsoring the website then let us know.

Can I link to your website from my website?

Yes if people wish to link to Pages on the CharityData.ca website they can do so. We have encouraged charities that are interested in transparency to both link to their T3010 filings with the Canada revenue agency and also the Charity data website as it is much easier to visualize that information.

I am interested in updates to the website and how can I learn more about it?

You can sign up to our newsletter which will have information on updates to the website.

Are there other organizations that are not charities that I can donate to and receive an official donation receipt that are not listed on your CharityData.ca website?

Yes here are a list of "qualified donees" on the CRA website. For example, you can donate to municipalities or foreign prescribed universities and receive an official donation receipt and these organizations, except for Canadian registered charities are not listed on CharityData.ca If you know of foreign universities that are not listed on the category prescribed universities outside of Canada you may want to share with them our article on how to get on the list. If your group is a non-profit and interested in becoming a registered charity you can contact us and our law firm may be able to assist you in applying for that status.

Why are so few people using the T3010 information?

I don't know. I am mystified about it. The T3010 with all its many inadequacies does provide a lot of information on the sector for over 20 years and few are making use of the information. I think few people are aware that the information is freely publicly available or how to use it. Perhaps CRA should start charging exorbitant amounts of money for the free data and then people will start to notice and some CBC journalist will write a negative article on the CRA and then CRA will back down and many more people will be aware of the free resource! Or you can just let your friends, family and colleagues know about this valuable resource and simple tools like CharityData.ca to access it. We are pleased that many thousands of additional people are using CRA data thanks to the CharityData.ca website.

Did you get any government money to create this website?

No. We received no government money to create this website. Our law firm paid for it. However, it is similar to another website that was in existence for a few years that was supported by Federal government money and that organization received about $1 million to create that website. They subsequently took down their website, despite my begging them to reconsider, when the government funding was no longer available and they did not want to pay for the ongoing maintenance. In fairness we should also note that the government of Canada spends millions of dollars to collect the information from charities, to input it into a database and provide it to anyone who needs it for free. We would not be able to have this website if it was not for the effort of the Canada Revenue Agency and the registered charities in Canada who completed and filed their T3010 form every year. No animals were harmed in making this website but some children might have felt like they were being neglected because their parents were working so hard on it. Luckily with the advent of UberEats this lack of parental involvement became more palatable. The government does ask that we say "The material on CharityData.ca is a copy of an official work published by the Government of Canada and the information has not been endorsed by, or produced in affiliation with, the Government of Canada." The Canadian government is just so modest!

Has anyone ever said anything nice about this website?

Yes. Here are a couple of examples:

"Finally got to spend some time on Charity Data this morning. It's so helpful. You should take tremendous pride in this outstanding contribution to our sector. Congratulations."
"Mark - it's a testament to your commitment to strengthen the NFP sector by supporting and sharing this info. The material is very well presented and an excellent use of a dashboard for organizations to tap into. Thank you."