Advocacy and political activity tends to be an area of confusion for charities, and this sometimes means that charities avoid this area altogether. But this doesn’t need to be the case! The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has well-defined regulations for charities, dividing activities into three classes:
A charity may take part in political activities provided that these activities are non-partisan and connected and subordinate to the charity’s purpose. Charities must restrict such activities to no more than 10% of their ‘effort.’ These activities would include:
- An explicit call to political action (encouraging the public to contact elected officials).
- Communication to the public that the law, policy, or decision of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country should be retained, opposed, or changed.
- Any activity or materials that seek to put pressure on an elected representative or public official to retain, oppose or change law, policy or decisions of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country.
- Direct representation to public or elected officials. This includes meetings to which those officials have been invited, even if they are not present. The representation can advocate that the law or policy be changed but IT MUST relate to an issue that is connected to the charity’s purposes, be well-reasoned, and not contain false, inaccurate or misleading information.
- Posting complete text of these representations is considered to be a charitable activity if there is no call to political action.
- General public awareness activities must be fact-based and well-reasoned, and cannot promote a point of view as the sole main activity.
- Advertisements need to include contact information.
A charity may NOT take part in an illegal activity or a partisan political activity.
ACEE as a Registered Charity
ACEE is a registered Canadian charity and we ensure that we stay well within all CRA Regulations noted above.