Fundraising for your charitable work

What is fundraising?

All charities registered under the Income Tax Act are required by law to devote their resources to exclusively charitable purposes and activities. A charity can use some of its resources for fundraising to support its charitable activities; however fundraising is not a charitable purpose in itself or a charitable activity that directly furthers a charitable purpose.

As a general rule, fundraising is any activity that includes a solicitation of present or future donations of cash or non-cash gifts, or the sale of goods or services to raise funds, whether explicit or implied.

Fundraising activities can be carried out by the registered charity (board members, directors, members, staff, or volunteers), or by anyone acting on its behalf (under a contractual agreement). 

Fundraising does not include seeking grants, gifts, contributions, or other funding from other charities or governments, or recruiting volunteers to carry out the general operations of the charity or related business activities.

Unacceptable fundraising activities

Fundraising is not acceptable when it:

Charities that engage in unacceptable fundraising cannot be registered under the Income Tax Act and are liable to sanctions or the revocation of their registration.

Official donation receipts and fundraising

A charity can issue an official receipt to a donor for the eligible amount of a gift. Donations received in relation to a fundraising event or activity may be eligible for recognition with an official donation receipt; however, the value of any applicable benefits provided to the participants must be determined. These benefits are considered an advantage and must be deducted from the fair market value of the amount donated. The method of calculating the eligible amount of a gift is called split receipting.

Only the charity itself can issue an official receipt for donations it has received.

For more information, see P113, Gifts and Income Tax.

Directed gifts

A donor cannot choose a specific beneficiary for their gift. However, a donor can ask that their gift be used in a particular program of the registered charity as long as there is no benefit to the donor or anyone not at arm's length to the donor.

For more information, see What is a gift?

Lotteries, bingos, charity casinos, or other gaming

Lotteries, bingos, charity casinos, or other forms of gaming are subject to the same guidelines as all other fundraising. Before conducting any of these types of fundraising activities, a registered charity should contact the relevant provincial, territorial or municipal government authority to obtain any necessary permissions, permits, or licenses.


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