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 and often on its website).
  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. An overview from the charity’s most recent T3010 is displayed as you scroll down.
  5. To view the full details of the T3010 or the quick view of a prior year select the desired financial year-end under “Reporting period views”.
    • 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 select “All” under Charity status or email CRA at

What Should I Look For on the T3010?

  • Board Composition. 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. The board should also be large enough to provide adequate oversight of the charity but not too large that the individual directors are not given adequate time to speak and ask questions in meetings. Boards should not have less than five and not more than 15 directors. Some exceptions exist. Question C8 of the T3010 will indicate whether the charity has compensated any of its directors/trustees. If they have, you may want to investigate why a director has received compensation. Charity directors normally serve the charity a volunteer capacity.
  • 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. If they have, additional information is provided on Schedule 2 – Activities outside 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. Compensation ranges from one charity to the next may differ and the appropriateness of the compensation may depend on several factors.
  • Non-cash Gifts. Schedule 5 indicates the types and receipted value of all non-cash gifts received by the charity. For some charities, a significant percentage of the total revenue reported is non-cash gifts.
  • 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.