January 26, 2000
This policy statement outlines the Directorate's policy on the registration of applicant organizations that are established as school councils.
An organization established as a school council can qualify for registration as a charity under the advancement of education.
School councils: Also known as Home and School Associations or Parent-Teacher Associations, serve as advisory and consultative committees for the purpose of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the schools they support and providing a higher calibre of education for the students
1. This policy applies to applicant organizations and registered charities that are established as school councils.
2. Councils are established by legislation in all provinces and the Yukon Territory.Footnote 1 In five provinces, school councils require the consent of the school boards or the Minister of Education before they can be established. Once the consent has been granted and the school council has been formed, the linkage between a school and its council should be self-evident in the council's governing documents and statement of activities. School councils are usually linked to a school, but it is not necessary for the councils to provide evidence that a school officially approves its assistance.
3. In some provinces, it is mandatory for each school to establish a school council, while in other provinces, schools cannot be registered as charities and some school boards are registered as charities.
4. Schools councils are mostly made up of parents who assist, communicate and provide advice to the school and vice versa, all of which contribute in facilitating the education process.
5. Registered charities must operate for the benefit of the public at large. However, council membership can be restricted to certain criteria that may be relevant to the nature of the school, such as religion or language, but the public benefit cannot be restricted, for example, to those living in a particular neighbourhood.
Fundraising and the gifting of funds
6. Some councils combine their advisory roles with fundraising activities. As registered charities can only gift funds to qualified donees, the school and/or the school board must be registered as charities before the school council can gift funds to either of them. A council that intends to apply funds to school projects and purposes or to a school board that are not registered charities will not itself qualify for registration as a charity.
7. A school council whose school is not a registered charity, may raise funds if it does not intend to gift these funds directly to the school. If the school is a non-profit organization, then as long as the control of the funds and the decision making as to their disbursement rests with the council, the council may spend funds for the benefit of the students. For example, the council may offer scholarships, open to any child in the school, or purchase books, laboratory or sports equipment for the school.
8. A school council may also spend funds for the benefit of students at a private school, for example, a school that is supported by tuition fees, providing the private school is a non-profit organization that does not have narrow or non-charitable admission requirements, such as admitting only the student children of employees of a certain company.
Broad or vague objects
9. At common law, objects should not be so broadly or vaguely stated that they allow the pursuit of non-charitable activities. However, broad and vague objects may still be acceptable as long as they restrict the council to charitable activities. The following are examples of acceptable objects that have a clear educational orientation:
- to establish communications
- in collaboration with the school or school board, to discuss issues of mutual concern and provide advice
- to consult and liaise with the school
10. Some organizations are internal divisions of Home and School Associations or Parent-Teacher Associations. They submit governing documents adopting the same objects as the national organization.
11. Many provincial organizations are not registered charities. Each provincial organization has a representative who is authorized to issue official donation receipts on its behalf. When an internal division has a fundraising campaign, the donated funds are sent either to a provincial organization or to the national organization that issues official donation receipts to the donors.
Public policy dialogue and development activities
12. Registered charities can fully engage, without limitation, in public policy dialogue and development activities that further their stated charitable purposes. However, registered charities cannot devote any part of their resources to the direct or indirect support of or opposition to any political party or candidate for public office including municipal or school board candidates.
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