Sources of Information on Canadian charities
The first place to look for information is on the website of the Canadian charity. You can find a charity’s website by searching on Google. A good website will provide information on the charity’s mission, activities, impact, governance structure, financial statements, contact information, fundraising costs, gift acceptance policy or receipting rules, among other things.
The second place one should look is the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Charities Directorate database on all 85,000 Canadian registered charities. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html CRA has provided funding to Imagine Canada to produce a database of charities which is located at http://www.charityfocus.ca The charityfocus.ca database is free and easy to use and provides a large amount of financial information from the T3010 in a much more user friendly manner than the CRA website.
Both of the above sources provide you with information that a charity places on its website or puts in its filings with the CRA. Remember that it may not be accurate. You may want to look more deeply into the charity. There is no better way to do this than by volunteering with the charity and seeing first-hand what they actually do.
Newspapers sometimes cover charities – both positively or negatively, but usually those stories can be found when you are searching the charity on Google. Depending on the reporter and the story media coverage is not always correct, fair and balanced.
CanadaHelps, which is a portal to encourage online donations to Canadian charities has a list of all 85,000 registered charities and these charities can place information on their CanadaHelps page about the charity http://www.canadahelps.org/
The CRA also puts on press releases about some of the worst Canadian charities, but only after their registrations have been revoked. You can see What’s New from the Charities Directorate at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/whtsnw/menu-eng.html
Here is also a list of some of the letters sent by the Charities Directorate to a small number of charities whose registered charitable status was revoked for cause. http://www.canadiancharitylaw.ca/index.php/blog/comments/canada_revenue_agency_deregistering_record_number_of_questionable_canadian_/