Here are some questions you should consider asking when solicited for a charitable donation – or how to donate prudently!
Are you a registered Canadian charity? What is your full legal name and registration number? Will I get an official donation receipt for my donation?
In general, only registered Canadian charities can provide official donation receipts, and only with an official donation receipt can one claim the charitable donation tax credit. Once armed with this information, you can, if you choose, verify the accuracy of the information provided using the Canada Revenue Agency web-site, which maintains a list of registered Canadian charities which may be searched by name and registration number. Registration numbers are 15-digit identifying numbers in the format #########RR####. You can also use the Canada Revenue Agency web-site to determine if a charity’s registration has been revoked, and whether that revocation was for cause, voluntary, or for failure to file an information return in a timely fashion. Registered Canadian charities are not obliged to issue donation receipts for every donation. Many charities, for instance, do not issue receipts for donations below a certain dollar value, and charities cannot legally issue donation receipts for the full entry fee for things like fundraising dinners and golf tournaments.
What are your charitable purposes? What is your mission? What are your objectives?
Get to know the charity before you donate. Peruse their web-site, and any written material with which they can provide you. Get on their e-mail or newsletter list, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. Volunteer for the charity. Speak to your friends, family and business associates to see if any of them have opinions about the charity you are considering supporting.
What charitable activities do you carry out, or do you support the charitable activities of others? Where? How many people benefit from those activities?
Smaller charities frequently do not carry out their own charitable activities, but instead support the activities of other, larger charities, or of a partner charity or non-governmental organization in another country.
How long have you been in operation?
The Canada Revenue Agency, on its web-site, also suggests that the following can be warning signs of fraud:
- Inappropriate pressure to give immediately;
- Calls that thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making;
- Organizations that use names similar to popular charities;
- Canvassers who are reluctant to give you details about their organization;
- Requests to send cash or a money order, rather than a cheque or credit card (cash is untraceable and can’t be cancelled). Always make your cheque payable to the charity, not to the canvasser personally;
- Offers to send a courier or an overnight delivery service to collect your money;
- Overly-friendly canvassers who ask personal questions;
- The use of free e-mail addresses that allow individuals to easily hide their identity; and
- A strange combination of call display numbers such as 123-456-7890 or 777-777-7778, which suggest that the caller may be attempting to hide their number.
With a little effort, you can ensure you direct your charitable donations wisely and effectively.
We were delighted to receive news OCUF lifetime member, Wayne Lee was awarded the prestigious Gary Gillam Award for social responsibility. This award is jointly sponsored by Alterna Savings and Central 1 and recognizes and honours individuals within the Ontario and British Columbia credit union members who demonstrate exemplary achievements in:
- Promoting social responsibility and/or sustainability in credit unions; and/or
- Promoting credit unions as a socially responsible investment alternative
Wayne served 43 years on the Board of Community First Credit Union from which he just recently retired.
Described by his colleagues as “always dedicated to the advancement of the co-operative system, not only locally but also internationally” Wayne has led many initiatives that have improved the lives of people in the community of Sault Ste. Marie including:
- developing a bursary program for medical students studying at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine which has resulted in more doctors remaining in “The Soo”;
- initiating the provision of funds for the building of a new hospital of which two units bear the name of the credit union; and
- developing a program along with other credit unions that had CUETS provide a percentage of the Exchange fees to local credit unions in the North to donate to their local health organizations.
Wayne also served on the Board of Credit Union Central of Ontario for many years, and all of its committees at one time or another, and served as Chair of that Board as well. In addition, he served the system as a Board member of the Co-operators, and the Canadian Co-operative Association. Wayne also was a founding Board member of the first Labour Sponsored Investment Fund in Ontario working in co-operation with both the Ontario Worker Co-op Federation and United Steelworkers. He served as Chair of that organization until it merged with the Growthworks Fund in 2006.
In typical Wayne Lee fashion, he did not wish any fanfare but agreed to allow us to make mention on our website. Wayne is dividing his $2,500 in award money between the Ontario Credit Union Charitable Foundation and Algoma Residential Community Hospice. Wayne we are grateful and appreciative of your continued support.
Who was Gary H. Gillam
This Award was established to honour the memory and work of Gary H. Gillam. Gary was the Director, Legal, Governmental Affairs and Administration, at Credit Union Central of Ontario from 1982-1988. In 1988, he became CEO of Unicoll Credit Union (now Alterna Savings), where he worked until illness forced his resignation in 1993.
Gary Gillam was one of the leading advocates for social responsibility in the credit union system. He vigorously promoted the concept of social investment, calling on credit unions and their centrals to use social as well as financial criteria for their investment portfolios. He supported the development of community loans funds to provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. At Unicoll and CUCO, he initiated social audits to measure the social performance of the organization, as a complementary process to the financial audit.
The Gary Gillam Award came into existence in 1996 and is awarded annually.
There is still time to use the first-time donor’s super-credit, if you have not already done so! This measure, enacted by the federal budget delivered on March 21, 2013, aims to encourage donations to registered Canadian charities. A first-time donor is entitled to an additional 25% federal charitable tax credit on donations of up to $1,000 made after March 20, 2013.
A donor who donates $1,000 to a registered Canadian charity but does not qualify as a first-time donor would receive a federal tax credit of $262 on that donation, as follows:
• 15% on the first $200, or $30
• 29% on the remaining $800, or $232
• Total federal tax credit of $262
A donor who makes the same donation but does qualify as a first-time donor would receive a federal tax credit of $512 on that donation, as follows:
• 15% on the first $200, or $30
• 29% on the remaining $800, or $262
• 25% on the entire $1,000, or $250
• Total federal tax credit of $512
For the purposes of the FDSC, you will be considered a “first-time donor” if neither you nor your spouse or common-law partner (if you have one) has claimed and been allowed a charitable donations tax credit for any year after 2007.
This is a temporary credit, which can be claimed once between the 2013 and 2017 taxation years. If you have not ever made a charitable donation, or haven’t made a donation in the last five years, you still have time to access this tax advantage!
Wear for Care at Meridian
Meridian Credit Union corporate office employees make a difference – every month! Every Friday they can pay $2 to wear jeans to work as part of their “Wear for Care” program. Toronto and St. Catharines head office staff then select a charity to donate to each month. Not only do they raise money, they raise awareness for the different charities they support.
Ontario Credit Union Foundations was delighted to be the recipient of a cheque for $1,469.00 from Meridian’s March Wear for Care efforts.
Thank you Meridian Credit Union!