Charities

Impact investing: What are charities able to do?

April 3rd, 2018 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Are charities legally permitted to make impact investments with their funds? Yes, but, getting to “yes” is not straightforward, and depends on the circumstances.

Impact investing is the use (mainly, but not exclusively) of money to simultaneously realize a financial return and a public or social good. A 2016 survey published by the Responsible Investment Association in Canada reports that in 2015 more than $9.2 billion in assets under management were identified by the survey respondents as being impact investments. A 2017 report by the Global Impact Investing Network  reveals US$114 billion in impact investments worldwide in 2016. These investments are in sectors ranging from housing and energy to microfinance, education, and arts and culture. The investment instruments include debt (e.g., loans, bonds), equity (both private and public shareholdings or units in partnerships), and real assets (in other words, tangible assets such as real estate or commodities, rather than financial capital).

Increasingly, charities are looking at using their funds and other resources to contribute to positive social, economic, cultural and environmental change (“social impact”), as well as to obtain a financial return. But does the law permit them to do so? Read the rest of this entry

A friendly visit from the CRA? About the new Charities Education Program

December 18th, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has launched a program to conduct in‑person visits to 500 registered charities each year to provide information and advice on their obligations under the Income Tax Act. The Charities Education Program (CEP) is designed to help charities avoid common errors and identify potential issues before it files its next information return.

Your charity may be selected by the CRA if it is newly registered, based on information from the charity’s information return (Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return), or if the charity has not complied in common areas such as receipting and reporting. All charities are eligible for a CEP visit. The CRA is also considering creating an ‘on‑demand’ service in the future for charities that wish to request a CEP visit, however currently charities are not able to request a visit.

Read the rest of this entry

Non-Profits: What you need to know about Bill 154

December 13th, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

On November 14, Bill 154 received Royal Assent in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Among other things, Bill 154 affects legislation governing Ontario non‑profits and charities, namely, the Corporations Act (OCA), Not‑for‑Profit Corporations Act, 2010 (ONCA) and the Charities Accounting Act (CAA). Read the rest of this entry

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): Federal government suspends the Private Right of Action provisions

June 13th, 2017 by Ted Hyland

Organizations – businesses, non‑profits and charities – are breathing a sigh of relief following the federal government’s decision to suspend indefinitely the coming into force of the provisions of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) that give persons the right to seek monetary compensation from anyone who has breached the consent rules in CASL and the collection and use of personal information rules in PIPEDA.[1]

Colloquially known as the “private right of action” clauses of CASL, they were slated to come into force on July 1, 2017; the suspension of their coming into force was accomplished by a federal Order‑in‑Council (PC Number: 2017‑0580), which was issued on June 2, 2017.

Among the groups that had lobbied the federal government to put the brakes on the implementation of the private right of action provisions were Imagine Canada and the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN). Imagine Canada and ONN sent a letter together to the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. The letter, dated February 14, 2017, lays out a number of the principal concerns that the nonprofit and charitable sectors have with CASL generally and with the private right of action specifically.

[1] Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (S.C. 2000, c. 5)

CRA Consultation Panel Releases its Report on Charities Political Activities

May 10th, 2017 by Claudia Pedrero

The Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities (the Consultation Panel) has now released its Report recommending changes to how charities should be regulated in Canada.

Earlier this year, we blogged about the Canada Revenue Agency’s (the CRA’s) consultation process on charities’ political activities.

Our firm also submitted its recommendations to the CRA advocating for changes that would allow charities to effectively participate in public policy debates.

In our submissions we took the position that the CRA’s current rules restricting charities’ political activities make their political role ineffective despite the fact charities are uniquely positioned to advocate for the public interest and many are experts in their fields.

Read the rest of this entry

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation: July 1, 2017 on the horizon — are you ready?

April 10th, 2017 by Ted Hyland

Updated May 11, 2017: Corrections/clarifications to the 4th and 7th bullet points below.

If you were keeping close tabs three years ago on the advent of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), you may be forgiven if you lost sight of it in the past three years. After all, you worked hard to ensure that your organization would be able to send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) once July 1, 2014 rolled around.

Well, it’s time to pay attention again, because July 1, 2017 marks the coming into force of a couple of important features to CASL. Read the rest of this entry