Interpreting Government Information

Every year, Canadian charities are required to report to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by completing and filing Form T3010, the Registered Charity Information Return. This form includes a summary of a charity’s programs and activities, board of directors, and financial information. Most sections of the T3010 are publicly accessible through CRA’s website. Here’s how to find them:

  1.  Go to
  2.  Type in the name or a part of the name of the charity you are researching. You can also search by the charity’s registration or business number (it appears on a charity’s official donation receipt).
  3.  After clicking “Search,” one or more charities that match your search will appear on a list. Select the specific one you are researching. You will be taken to that charity’s page.
  4.  Select “T3010 Return.”
  5.  A list of annual information returns for the selected charity will appear. You will have the option to choose the “Quick View” or “Full View” format for the year that you are researching.
    • The “Quick View” format summarizes select information from the charity’s T3010 using charts and visual graphs. This option provides a quick way to scan a charity’s revenue, expenses, and staff compensation.
    • The “Full View” format provides all of the details from the charity’s T3010 that are available to the public. This option is best for an in-depth look at a charity’s financial, program, and governance information.

If the charity you are researching is not listed, it is either not registered or it may have had its registration revoked by CRA. To verify, you can go back to the basic search and search by “Canadian Revoked Charities” or call CRA at 1-800-267-2384.



What Should I Look For on the T3010?

  • Relationships Among Directors/Trustees. To be effective, a charity’s directors/trustees should be at arm’s length from each other and the charity’s management (“arm’s length” generally means not connected by blood relationship, marriage, common-law partnership, or adoption). This helps charities to avoid conflicts of interest and make decisions that are best for the charity. Section B on the T3010 asks charities to list each director/trustee, state their position on the board, and identify whether they are at arm’s length with other directors. Under “At arm’s length with other Directors, etc.?” the answer should be “Yes” for the majority of the board members.
  • Charitable Activities. If you are unsure about a particular charity’s activities, you can view a brief summary in Section C. This section also indicates whether the charity has participated in activities outside of Canada.
  • Fundraising Practices. Question C7 of the T3010 reveals whether a charity has provided incentives (commissions, bonuses) for external fundraisers. CCCC standards do not permit this practice.
  • Transfers to Qualified Donees. Sometimes charities give funds to other Canadian charitable organizations that share similar charitable purposes. This is called a transfer to a qualified donee. C3 indicates whether a charity has given funds to another charity. If it has, you can view the specific recipients and the total amount transferred on the Qualified Donee Worksheet of the T3010.
  • Staff Compensation. C9 indicates if a charity has paid staff. Schedule 3 contains additional salary information, including the number of people employed by the charity and the salary range of the ten highest paid employees. Certified member charities should not pay their directors/trustees, so the answer to C8 for organizations that hold the Seal of Accountability should be “No.”
  • Administration Costs. Schedule 6 (or Section D for small charities) provides a charity’s financial details. Many people try to determine if a charity is “efficient” by focusing on lines 5010 (total expenditures on management and administration) and 5020 (total expenditures on fundraising). However, these lines do not tell a charity’s whole story. Administration costs must be considered in light of the size of the organization (total revenue – line 4700) and what it is trying to accomplish (Section C). Some charities work in very remote areas that demand high transportation costs; others face a tremendous amount of government red tape when transporting goods. These logistically complex projects require significant resources, but may still be accomplishing a worthy goal.
Interpreting Government Information | Give Confidently. Give Generously.
2020-09-23 11:45:11 America/Toronto -04:00