How do I choose the right charity?



Ah, morning Connor, what brings you by today?

Well, my friend Jack and I signed up for a charity run, and I was wondering if you would sponsor me.

Would you like some coffee?

CONNOR [smiling]:
Sure… I figured you'd be pretty generous because I know that you did some volunteer work for charities so.

Oh I see! And what is the name of this charity, and how much will it cost me?

Well, it's called ABC International.

Hmm. Doesn't sound familiar. Do you know what do they do, and are they a registered charity?

CONNOR [uncertain]:
I think they help people in developing countries build schools. But I'm not sure if they're registered. You mean like with the government?

GRANDPA [laughing]:
Yes, with the Canada Revenue Agency, also known as the CRA. But it's quite easy to check.

We'll have a look.

GRANDPA [continued]:
We'll go to the Charities Listings on the CRA's Web site.
All you have to do is go to and search the charity's name.

Good, ABC International is listed. 

Click on the T3010 return link and then click on Quick View where you can see a summary of what the charity does, and their activities and financial information. It says here that ABC International does help build schools, and that it also builds wells and sanitation works, and provides emergency food and shelter.

CONNOR [excited]:
So ABC International is registered but why is that good?

Well, a charity that's registered with the CRA has to devote its resources to charitable activities and is allowed to issue tax receipts for the donations it receives.

GRANDPA [continued]:
With Charity Quick View, you can see very clearly how a charity spends its resources.

Its revenue… its expenses…

So, how does ABC international look to you?

Well, Connor, that's not an easy question.  All registered charities have to devote resources to charitable activities but some are better at making the most of their resources.

For me, if a lot of money is going to non-program expenses, then I start asking questions, and do a bit of research.  

On the CRA Web site, I can see a charity's full return filed with the CRA. I can also look at previous years to see if there's a trend. If I still have concerns, I visit the charity's Web site or contact them directly. In many cases there's a good reason. And if not, well, the decision to give to any charity is finally up to you. 

GRANDPA [continued, laughing]:
You thought I'd be an easier sale, didn't you?

Well, actually knowing more about ABC International makes me feel, I guess, more excited about helping it raise money.

GRANDPA [smiling]:
Funny, I feel better about writing a cheque too. 

Page details

Date modified: