Fundraising dinners

General information and example

  • Meals are valued at the price that would be charged for a comparable meal provided by a comparable facility. If the event is held at a restaurant, then the price the restaurant would charge a regular customer is the comparable value. It is also acceptable to take into account group or banquet rates.

  • Complimentary items are valued at the amount that would normally be paid for them at a retail outlet.

  • Door and achievement prizes are valued at their retail value, totalled, and prorated per ticket sold.

  • Entertainment is valued at the usual and current ticket price.

  • Raffle tickets – if they are included in the attendance fee, the prizes are treated as door prizes and must be taken into account in determining the amount of the advantage. However, if the raffle is conducted separately, this is essentially a lottery, and the cost of the raffle tickets is not considered a gift. The value of the various prizes that could be won should not be taken into account in determining the amount of the advantage.

  • Auctions - Generally, an auction at a fundraising dinner will not be viewed as an advantage.

Example 

A charity holds a fundraising dinner and sells 500 tickets for $250 each.

  • A comparable meal could be purchased for $100 (excluding GST/HST, PST, and gratuities).
  • The door prizes are a trip with a value of $3,000 and jewellery with a retail value of $500 ($3,500/500 or $7 per ticket sold).
  • Each attendee receives a logo pen and a key chain with a total retail value of $10.
  • There is a performer at the dinner. The usual and current ticket price to see that performer is $50.
  • A silent auction will take place at the dinner.

Calculation of eligible amount:

Ticket price (the gift)                                                                                                    $250

Less advantage:
    Meal                                                                                              $100
    Complimentary items (pen & key chain, door prizes)                      $0
    Entertainment                                                                                 $50

Total advantage                                                                                                           $150

Eligible amount                                                                                                            $100  


The amount of the advantage is $150 and a receipt may be issued for the eligible amount of $100. 

The de minimis threshold is $25 (the lesser of $75 or 10% of the $250 ticket price). The total value of the complimentary items and the door and achievement prizes to each attendee ($17) fits within the de minimis threshold.  Therefore, the value of these items does not need to be included in the total amount of the advantage.

If the total advantage had exceeded $200 (80% of the $250 ticket price), it would not have met the intention to make a gift threshold and a receipt could not have been issued.

Questions and answers 

  • Does a charity have to deduct the value of a dinner as an advantage, if the dinner did not cost the charity anything?

    Yes. The fair market value of the advantage must be deducted to calculate the eligible amount of the gift, regardless of the cost to the charity for the dinner.

  • If an individual buys multiple tickets for a fundraising dinner, how does the charity figure out the eligible amount of the gift for the receipt?  

    When one individual buys multiple tickets for a fundraising dinner, the charity has to add up the advantages that apply to each ticket and subtract that amount from the total amount paid to arrive at the eligible amount of the gift.

  • If an individual buys a ticket for a fundraising event but is unable to go to the event, does the charity still subtract the advantage from the amount of the gift when issuing the receipt?

    Yes. The charity still has to subtract the amount of the advantage to figure out the eligible amount of the gift. The individual bought the right to that advantage, and the advantage must be subtracted, whether or not the individual exercises that right.

  • If a charity hires a local band to provide the entertainment at a fundraising dinner, does the value of the entertainment have to be included as an advantage?

    This depends on the identity of the entertainer. If a member of the public would normally purchase a ticket to attend a performance by the entertainer, then the charity would have to include the value of the usual and current ticket price as an advantage, regardless of what it pays the entertainer to perform at the event. 

  • If a volunteer bakes a cake for a charity fundraising dinner, can the charity issue him a receipt?

    No. Unless the volunteer is a caterer or professional baker, valuing his skill, time, and effort for preparation of the cake is not possible. Since the fair market value of the gift cannot be determined, a receipt cannot be issued. The charity could reimburse the volunteer for the cost of the ingredients and the volunteer could give all or part of the payment back to the charity as a gift, so long as the amount is given voluntarily. For more information, see Policy commentary CPC-012, Out-of-pocket expenses.

  • If someone holds a dinner party at their home as a fundraiser for a charity, can the charity issue receipts to the attendees?

    No. If someone cooks a meal in their home, the fair market value of that meal could not be determined. It may be possible to determine the value of the ingredients, but unless the cook is a professional who sells meals on the open market, valuing the skill, time, and effort for the preparation of the meal is not possible. When the fair market value of an advantage (in this case, the meal) cannot be determined, you cannot issue a receipt.

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