Limitations and Caveats
Charitydata.ca is based on the T3010 Registered Charity Information Return filings of Canadian registered charities. There are a number of limitations and caveats in dealing with information based on the T3010:
- All of the information on charitydata.ca is taken from the T3010 and is provided “as is”. You can directly access information on each Canadian registered charity on the CRA website.
- Although all charities are supposed to file their T3010 within 6 months of their fiscal year end, some registered charities file their return late. In some cases, they do not file at all and may eventually lose their charitable status. Depending on the dataset from CRA, not every charity may have filed their T3010 or CRA may have received the T3010 but not yet inputted it.
- The information presented on this website is historical information and in some cases an organization may no longer be a registered charity or their situation may be different than the historic information. For up-to-date information on all registered charities please use the CRA website or contact a charity directly.
- The information used on charitydata.ca is for the years 2005 to 2014 and is current to February 2016. Therefore, any changes the charity may request of CRA or CRA may make after February 2016 to those respective fiscal years may not be reflected on our website.
- Registered charities complete the T3010 and one person signs the form. The T3010 information is not independently verified by CRA, or anyone else, when it is posted on the CRA site or placed in the CRA database.
- Although an important legal document, the T3010 is often completed by volunteers or others who: may have little understanding of the nuances of the Income Tax Act (Canada), may have limited language skills, may not have easy access to the correct information and are often in a hurry to file the form to avoid deregistration. It is a good idea, especially for larger charities, for different people within the organization to review the T3010 closely such as finance, program staff, fundraising, and board/governance. However, this does not always happen.
- The T3010s are filed by with CRA and in many cases need to be coded by hand by CRA which can also introduce mistakes. Only a small number of T3010s have 2D bar code technology which will eliminate most processing errors on CRA’s part. Canadian charities still cannot electronically file the T3010, although CRA has announced that electronic filing will be available in 2019. Larger charities should check the CRA website after filing to ensure that CRA properly inputs the information and should not assume that it will be correctly inputted.
- When one is dealing with gigabytes of data that are not always uniformly provided by CRA over many years there is a possibility that the CRA information may in some cases be processed incorrectly and therefore will be displayed in some cases inaccurately.
- In rare cases, those completing the T3010 for a charity are deliberately deceptive. For example, an organization knows that it has substantial fundraising or political expenses but chooses to put them under charitable. Or, an organization claims that pharmaceuticals that it has purchased are worth $50 million when they are really worth $50,000.
- Do not rely on any of the information on charitydata.ca for any purpose including but not limited to granting or donation decisions without checking with the charity and conducting appropriate due diligence as required.
- We have provided a link at the bottom of each page to the CRA’s Charity Listing for that particular registered charity which has in some cases more up to date and greater information on the registered charity. We also have a link to the CanadaHelps.org page for each charity. CanadaHelps is an online platform that allows people to donate online to all registered charities. Neither CRA nor CanadaHelps is endorsing charitydata.ca. These links are provided purely as a matter of convenience and charitydata.ca is not endorsing any particular charities or information on those websites.
- The T3010 is a tax form completed according to guidance provided by the CRA in a Guide (T-4033) and also various other CRA guidance and policies. The information inputted may not conform to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and may not match what is in a financial statement prepared by the charity’s accountant. You can obtain copies of financial statements, whether audited or not, on any registered charity by requesting the financial statements from CRA. These financial statements are filed with CRA, but not placed on the CRA website, and they sometimes add further important information on the charity. Organizations should place their financial statements for the last 3-5 years on their own website so it is easily accessible to the public, but there is no legal requirement in Canada to do so.
- The T3010 only requests certain specific information on a charity. Many important questions are not asked on the T3010 as described in that article. Furthermore, CRA is prohibited from releasing any information on the approximately 80,000 - 100,000 non-profits that are not registered charities even though many of them file the T1044 Non-Profit Information Return.
- Relying solely on the T3010 to make decisions on whether a charity is efficient, effective, or worthwhile to support is prone to failure. We established a website at smartgiving.ca which discusses questions donors may want to ask before donating to charity. In addition, we prepared on article on how much should a charity spend on overhead which discusses the futility of rating charities based on overhead. We have also placed information on charity and non-profit statistics on our website at http://www.globalphilanthropy.ca/blog/category/canadian_charity_statistics.
- For the most up-to-date information use the CRA’s own Charities Listing database. If you notice errors in the CRA information, let CRA know. A charity can file a T1240 (10) Registered Charity Adjustment Request.