Legal Information on Charitable Status in Canada (Updated!)

We’ve updated our information sheet on becoming a charity!

Since we published our legal information sheets for Quebec nonprofits in 2009, there have been  some important changes to the best practices for nonprofit organizations. This updated document provides legal information (not advice!) on applying to become a charity in Canada.

Click here to access our legal information on Applying for Charitable Status. 

Should we apply for charitable status?

At COCo, we encounter groups working for social change under all sorts of legal structures. Lots of community groups do charitable work without ever applying for charitable status. Some organizations apply for charitable status in order to become eligible to receive funding from charitable foundations. Another reason is that they think people are more likely to give money if they can obtain tax deductible receipts for their donations. Other groups evaluate the potential for more donations, and decide applying for and maintaining charitable status just isn’t worth the time and effort. It’s worth thinking carefully about your options before you proceed with a charitable status application.

What information about charitable status can COCo offer?

This info sheet provides an introduction to some of the pros and cons around qualifying, applying for, and maintaining charitable status. We answer questions like:

  • Charitable status: Do we have to?
  • What is the difference between applying for incorporation as a nonprofit and getting charitable status?
  • What is the difference between a foundation and a charity?
  • What are some of the benefits of charitable status?
  • How do we maintain charitable status?
  • Can charities organize or participate in political activities?
  • How can we decide if it is worthwhile to apply for charitable status?
  • Is our organization eligible for charitable status? What counts as a charitable activity?
  • What documents are required when applying for charitable status?
  • Should we talk to a lawyer?
  • How long before I receive the decision from the Canada Revenue Agency about whether my organization qualifies as a charity?

Click here to access our updated legal information on Applying for Charitable Status.

The french translation of this document will be coming soon!