Transparency is the buzz word of the year.  Increasingly, people want more information on charities.  This a good time to pause to consider what information is publicly available.

The Income Tax Act provides that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) can provide the following information to any person:

  • a copy of the charity’s governing documents,
  • the names of the directors and the time periods that they held their positions,
  • any information provided in the application for registration (the T2050),
  • a copy of the notice of registration, including any conditions and warnings,
  • a copy of financial statements required to be filed with the annual return;
  • information contained in a public information return,
  • the name of the charity, its location, date of registration, and date of annulment, revocation or termination,
  • information on significant shareholdings,
  • a copy of all or part of any letter sent to a charity dealing with grounds for revocation or annulment,
  • a copy of all or part of any letter or notice sent to a charity or relating to suspension of registered status or any assessment of tax or a penalty, and
  • an application by the charity, and information filed in support of it, with respect to a decision by the Minister to allow the charity to accumulate property, change designation (charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation) or be associated with another charity.

The CRA’s website has a searchable listing of registered charities.  This website provides instant access to some of the above information, including:

  • a charity’s name,
  • address,
  • contact information,
  • registration number,
  • designation (charitable organization, public foundation, or private foundation), and
  • T3010 information returns for past years (which includes the names of directors or trustees, finances, fundraising and employee salaries).

Some charities are providing some information on their own websites in an effort to increase transparency.  Documents not available online can be requested by calling the CRA Charities Directorate.