In my 25 years of service with CCCC, I’ve seen our seven-person member support team answer a lot of questions.
We get the most questions in the fall, when the church year begins. As the ministry season ramps up, charities seek guidance on everything from board structure, to human resources, to finance. November and December are busy as organizations prepare their budgets for the new year and deal with year-end donations. In the spring, we answer lots of questions on closing the books as many charities end their fiscal years. So, in light of these recurring themes, here are five questions we regularly face from members and non-members alike:
1. Tax Receipting
Issuing tax receipts that fulfill Canada Revenue Agency requirements can get tricky. It’s especially hard when a donor wants special treatment. No matter what you or the donor wish could happen, the law is generally clear. For instance – no, you can’t issue a tax receipt to a child whose elderly mother has been donating for years simply because it would improve the child’s tax situation. Download our document, “Top tips for issuing accurate donation receipts” for some other good advice.
2. Conflicts of interest
Conflicts of interest are often delicate situations. The pastor’s spouse may want to serve on the board, or your organization might want to hire a board member’s company for a contract. These are just two of the many questions we field around conflicts of interest. We can help answer your questions and offer guidance as you navigate these challenging conversations.
3. Board Governance
There are many broad matters that come under the area of board governance. One crucial item for organizations is to recognize that charity legislation takes precedence over any bylaws that might be in place, even long-standing ones. This requires charity leaders to do periodic reviews of the bylaws to ensure they remain compliant with charity law, in general, and any specific requirements for an incorporated charity to follow that are in incorporation legislation it was formed under, as these laws and their regulations change from time-to-time. We provide comprehensive seminars on board governance and offer general guidance and education for members in need of further support.
4. Financial statements
Members often ask if their charity requires audited financial statements. The answer is “yes” if charity is incorporated and that incorporation law requires it if, for example, a revenue threshold has been exceeded set out in that legislation. Unincorporated charities do not have an audit requirement, but it is certainly arguable to consider having one as a good or even best practice. This gives donors a level of comfort that the finances are in good order and presents the numbers and notes that meet a professional standard.”
5. Donation management
Navigating the intricacies of donation management can be tricky, too. For instance, some churches in Canada are affiliated with U.S. parent churches and want to send money south of the border. But, while Canadian law has been clear that only fellow registered charities in Canada could receive money as a donation, there is now the additional possibility of making qualified disbursements to non-charities. Care must still be taken to follow the rules governing those disbursements. Another common question is, what to do when a large donor wants to influence how the organization spends their contributions?
Whatever the question, I can’t think of a time we weren’t able to help. In cases where we may not have an immediate answer, we can introduce you to someone from our Professional Associate network who has the knowledge and qualifications to assist you further.
Need help today? Members enjoy access to our extensive knowledge base and regular consultations with our Member Support Team. Non-members are also welcome to one free consultation.
We believe in your mission and we love to serve.
Gil Langerak has worked in the finance department at major charities, and has served as a board member of a church, Christian charity, and non-religious organization. He has been helping CCCC members with their unique issues for the last 25 years.