Charities Connection

CRA news, information, and events for registered charities

Charities Connection is an electronic publication that gives registered charities information on technical issues, new guidance and policy changes, CRA initiatives, and reminders.

No. 10 – December 2011

The season of giving – Things to remember when issuing official donation receipts

During the holiday season and as the calendar year comes to a close, many charities are issuing more official donation receipts than usual. Here are a few important things every charity should consider before it issues a receipt:

  • When was the gift received? A charity can only issue a receipt for the 2011 tax year if the donation was received in 2011. If the postmark on the envelope containing the donor’s payment is dated on or before December 31, 2011, this is also acceptable.

  • What information needs to be on a receipt? Remember, there are different requirements for receipts issued for cash gifts, and for non-cash gifts (gifts in kind). For a complete list of these requirements see What information must appear on an official donation receipt? For cash donations, a registered charity may issue one cumulative receipt for the entire calendar year. See our webpages for a sample official donation receipt.

  • What should a charity look out for? Charities must not be involved in schemes or arrangements that require them to write donation receipts for an amount greater than the value of the gift received. Be aware of fundraising and donation schemes that appear too good to be true.

  • Can a charity lend its registration number to another organization? Under no circumstances should a registered charity issue donation receipts on behalf of another organization, or lend its registration number to another organization for receipting purposes. A registered charity is responsible for all receipts issued under its name and registration number. It must be able to account for the corresponding donations on its annual information return and in its books and records.

Although there is no requirement in the Income Tax Act for a registered charity to issue an official donation receipt or to issue a receipt within a certain timeframe, the Canada Revenue Agency suggests that registered charities issue receipts to donors by February 28 of the calendar year that follows the year of the donation. This allows taxpayers to claim their donations on time, on their personal annual income tax returns.

Outreach activities

2011 Charities Information Sessions

Spokespersons from the Charities Directorate travelled to 44 different cities and towns across Canada to deliver a total of 63 Charities Information Sessions to more than four thousand participants. These free sessions provide an excellent opportunity for treasurers, new board members, and volunteers to learn more about a charity's legal obligations.

This year featured sessions on the following topics:

  • Fundraising
  • Receipting
  • Books and records
  • Financial Statements
  • Form T3010-1, Registered Charity Information Return
  • Provincial requirements (in some cities)

Charities Information Sessions are made possible largely through the kindness of registered charities and hosts that provided free venues. A big thank you to all the organizations and individuals who were our hosts this year! 

When we select a venue to host an information session, in the spirit of keeping costs down, we try to find a location that is free of charge, and that can accommodate 75 to 150 people—with a white board or wall on which to project a presentation. We also consider the location (close to transit routes and/or in a well-known place), wheelchair accessibility, and parking (free parking is preferable but not mandatory). Selected hosts just need to provide the venue and help with the set-up; we take care of everything else.

If your charity is interested in hosting a session next year, please fill out a registration form. If we select your location, we will contact you to make further arrangements.

2011 Charities Information Webinars

The Charities Directorate began scheduling webinars in 2009 as another way to deliver compliance-related education to charities. In 2011, we offered webinars on five topics. These webinars were converted into videos which are now available on our website.

This year featured sessions on the following topics:

  • Gifting to other organizations
  • T3010-1: Line by Line Review
  • Non-compliance issues and how to avoid them
  • Political activities
  • Activities outside Canada

To view the 2011 Webinars, and those from previous years, go to Recorded webinars .

For more information about our webinars, go to Questions and answers about webinars.

Online registration for the 2012 Charities Information Webinars will open in early 2012.

Reminder to file your Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return

Charities with fiscal periods ending December 31, 2011, must file Form T3010-1, Registered Charity Information Return, by June 30, 2012. A charity’s registered status can be revoked if it doesn’t file. For more information about the T3010, go to Annual information return (T3010).

Did you know that the public and the media routinely use the Charities Listings to review charities’ T3010s and often request financial statements? This is one of the reasons why you should complete your T3010 accurately. The Charities Directorate offers educational resources for charities, such as webinars and videos, to help you complete this return. For more information, watch Completing the Registered Charity Information Return T3010-1.

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