Charitable activities in Canada - Statistics & Facts

Published by Erin Duffin, Apr 29, 2019
Charities in Canada are registered under the Income Tax Act and fall under the jurisdiction of the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is responsible for all compliance and regulatory matters in regards to registered charities. Registered charities are charitable organizations, public foundations or private foundations that were established and reside in Canada, whose purpose it is to relieve poverty, advance education or religion, or other purposes that benefit the community. They are obligated to only use their resources to either carry out their own charitable activities or to make gifts to qualified recipient organizations.

Entities operating as charities make up the largest portion of organizations with registered charity status in Canada. As of 2012, the total assets of operating charities were 274 billion Canadian dollars, compared to 24.8 billion for private foundations and 21.4 billion for public foundations.

The largest registered charities in Canada tend to be health care and educational organizations such as Alberta Health Services and the Toronto District School Board. Alberta Health Services, in particular, is the largest registered charity in Canada in every sense of the word. As the sole health authority for the province of Alberta, it is the largest employer in Alberta, the largest charitable employer in all Canada and the largest charity in terms of revenue and assets.

In terms of the charitable activity of Canadian individuals, Canada was ranked fourth in the 2015 World Giving Index, which ranks the charitable activity of citizens in a country by whether they have in the last month: helped a stranger, donated money to charity, or volunteered time to an organization. On average, 5.6 million Canadians donate to charity annually. Households with higher annual income and individuals with higher levels of education tend to be more likely to donate to and volunteer their time to charitable organizations. Older and married people tend to give more to charity while younger and single people tend to be more likely to volunteer their time.

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