September 5th is the International Day of Charity, which originally began in Hungary to commemorate Mother Theresa’s death in 1997 and declared an international holiday by the United Nations in 2012. On this day, consider planning out your charitable donations in a way that maximizes your tax benefits and finances and also aligns with Indigenous reconciliation and decolonization.
There is a variety of areas where your donation can make a difference to Indigenous communities; including health, education, funding, economic, cultural, language, business, community planning, infrastructure, housing, food security, and environmental. It really comes down to what speaks to you and your personal and/or business interests.
While many organizations operate to benefit Indigenous individuals, communities, or areas, you want to be sure that you understand where your money is going and what implications your donation has for you financially. Supporting your favourite cause can get you as much as 53% back in charity tax deductions.
Check out some of these tips from Canada Helps, including their online charitable tax credit calculator: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/tax-time/
Also check out this useful guide from Co-operators for more details to consider when planning your donations: https://www.cooperators.ca/en/Resources/plan-ahead/charity-tax-credit.aspx
As well, these frequently asked questions from Turbotax may also be helpful: https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/tax-benefits-of-charitable-donations-5414
What is the difference between a registered charity and a non-profit organization?
The difference between a registered charity and an organization that is a non-profit has mainly to do with taxes and purpose. A charity must operate exclusively for charitable purposes while a non-profit can operate for pleasure, sport, recreation, etc, or any other purpose except profit, and it cannot operate exclusively for charitable purposes. Regarding taxes, a charity is registered and designated with the Canada Revenue Agency and can issue donation receipts for tax purposes; non-profit organizations are not registered or designated and cannot issue donation receipts for tax purposes. Both have tax exemptions and cannot use its income to personally benefit its members.
You can verify a charity’s registration status with the CRA using this search link.
We’ve also put together a quick list of registered Indigenous charities in Canada for you to check out, all of whom issue tax receipt for donations:
Ke’umut Lelum Foundation : The Kw’umut Lelum Foundation is led and stewarded by nine Coast Salish Nations: Halalt, Lyackson, Málexeł, Penelakut, Qualicum, Snaw-naw-as, Snuneymuxw, Stz'uminus and Ts’uubaa-asatx. These nine Coast Salish Nations have a shared purpose and vision for children and communities. The foundation collaborates with a vibrant community of private and public donors, united in our efforts to expand cultural, economic, social, educational and recreational access in support of Indigenous children and their families.
Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society: The VAFCS mandate is to meet the needs of the urban Aboriginal People making a transition to the urban community. The centre provides programs in health and welfare, social services, human rights, culture, education, recreation and equality for all genders of Aboriginal People of all age groups.
ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL Indigenous Food Systems Initiative: ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL is led by local Indigenous peoples, informed by place-based Indigenous worldviews and frameworks in the territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ, Lekwungen, Tsuk, and Pacheedaht. Their aim is to foster and increase their communities’ collective work with local Indigenous food and knowledge systems. Donations can be made to them through Canada Helps under the Victoria Community Food Hub Society and selecting ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL.
Indian Residential School Survivors Society: IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
Water First: Water First works to help address water challenges in Indigenous communities in Canada through education, training and meaningful collaboration.
Raven: RAVEN raises legal defence funds to assist Indigenous Peoples who enforce their rights and title to protect their traditional territories.
Canadian Roots Exchange: CRE collaborates with communities to provide programs, grants, and opportunities that are grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing and being and designed to strengthen and amplify the voices of Indigenous youth.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami: Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami serve as a national voice protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada.
Kocihta: Kocihta’s programs help Indigenous youth overcome their barriers to stay in school, acquire the knowledge and leadership skills they need to plan a career path, and get connected to workplace opportunities within a career-of-choice in order to become exemplary members of Canada's workforce.
Legacy of Hope Foundation: The LHF’s goal is to educate and raise awareness about the history and existing intergenerational impacts of the Residential School System (RSS) and subsequent Sixties Scoop (SS) on Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) Survivors, their descendants, and their communities to promote healing and Reconciliation. Part of the LHF’s goals are to provide needed resources for schools.
Indspire: Indspire is a national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people for the long term benefit of these individuals, their families and communities, and Canada.
Is your organization looking to set itself up as a registered charity?
Check out the following links:
Government of Canada Includes information on registering as a charity under the Income Tax Act.
Corporation Centre Some frequently asked questions, such as incorporation fees for non-profits and acceptable purposes for charitable status.
Other Ways to Give
Remember that money is not the only way to make a difference. All efforts make a difference, whether it be donating food or clothing, volunteering your time, or sharing announcements on social media, no act is too small and every gift is appreciated.