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Charitable activities in Canada - Statistics & Facts

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 or private foundations that are established and reside in Canada, whose purpose is to improve the situation of people in need of help in view of their situation, or other purposes that benefit the community, and which are aimed at beneficiaries outside their members. 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 March 2021, there were over 75,000 such entities, representing over 87 percent of all organizations with registered charitable status. There were also nearly 5,000 public foundations and just over 6,000 private foundations.

The largest registered charities in Canada tend to be health care and educational organizations such as the University of British Columbia and the Toronto District School Board. The University of British Columbia, in particular, is one of the largest registered charity in Canada in every sense of the word. It is the organization with the largest number of employees in Canada, and one of the largest charity in terms of donations and assets.

In terms of the charitable activity of Canadian individuals, Canada was ranked sixth in the 2019 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, 5.16 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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