So, you’ve decided that now is the right time in your life to give back, either to your preferred causes, your local community or maybe even to charities abroad. First off, congratulations! Engaging in philanthropy is a hugely rewarding experience. It can help individuals find new meaning, bring families closer together and always delivers a greater sense of purpose. As we’ve seen through countless client engagements, no one ever regrets taking that first great leap in their philanthropic journey.
But the exact path they take, how they manage it and with whom, can vary widely.
The challenge of maintaining a private foundation
Some, for example, choose to establish a private foundation to administer their giving. But they quickly learn that going the private route comes with challenges. First, simply establishing a private foundation requires the services of a lawyer, an accountant and possibly even a financial advisor to oversee, or consult on, the process. It can take nearly a year before the Canada Revenue Agency gives final approval and the entire undertaking can cost thousands of dollars in set-up fees. That’s money that could have been donated to your preferred charities.
Then there are the ongoing maintenance issues. A private foundation is a legal entity similar to a corporation. It requires the establishment of a trust or not-for-profit corporation, and registration as a charity. Donations must be processed by the foundation and charitable receipts disbursed accordingly. This involves a significant amount of banking, bookkeeping, grant processing and the tracking of grant receipts. Overwhelmed yet? It gets worse (but we promise a happy ending to this story).
CRA requires the filing of an annual information return and an annual audit. That’s a time-consuming and costly process unto itself. So, too, is setting up and organizing a board of directors or trustees to provide oversight—a strict legal requirement—who must hold meetings and keep minutes, develop policies and by-laws and manage the foundation’s investments.
That financial information is made public by the CRA, with all grants and donors fully disclosed. In other words, donation information is in the public domain for all to see.
A simpler way
This brings us to why so many philanthropists have chosen to work with Canada Gives instead.
Our customized Canada Gives Foundation accounts (which are Donor Advised Funds, or DAFs) help philanthropists and their families fund their preferred charities however and whenever they want with the help of their trusted advisors. Our accounts can be set up in a day—yes, you read that correctly!—offer the same executive privileges and funding choices as a private foundation, but cost nothing to set up. They also deliver immediate tax benefits in the form of a charitable receipt for the full amount deposited into the account. That offers the flexibility to disburse the funds however and whenever you choose. Our administration fees are comparable to those of competitors such as the big banks, but we don’t place restrictions on disbursements. That’s the banks’ fine print that catches most givers off guard.
Indeed, while the big banks have the critical mass to offer slightly lower administrative fees, they often lock in a large portion of a foundation’s capital, in some cases for nearly a decade. As a registered charity, our goal is to flow as much capital as possible back to the non-profit sector, which explains why we place no such restrictions on funds under our organization’s management.
A stress-free approach to giving
Here’s the best part: A Canada Gives Foundation account doesn’t require any administrative upkeep, and involves no legal responsibilities on the part of the donor. You choose which charities you’d like to fund, we make the disbursements and handle all tax receipting, tax returns and bookkeeping. A Canada Gives Foundation account also allows you to make grants to charities anonymously, if you choose.
Part of handling the heavy lifting on your behalf means putting the process behind your philanthropy. We’ll help you and your family create a charitable giving plan—think of it as a roadmap for your philanthropy—carry out due diligence on each charity, provide quarterly updates on the growth of your account and disbursements, while also managing incoming grant requests so you don’t have to. We’ll either manage the investments in your portfolio, or leave that to your accountants and portfolio manager. The choice is yours. We’ll encourage you to update that charitable giving plan on a regular basis to ensure that your donations stay in alignment with your interests and donation preferences.
Most importantly, we care. Our team provides a boutique, high-touch service designed to ensure your satisfaction throughout your philanthropic journey. Whether you’re giving back here at home or overseas, we want to help you build a lasting legacy that delivers quantifiable results for your favourite causes. We’ll work to understand your interests while earning your trust. Our goal is to build a long-term, meaningful relationship where transparency trumps all, and high-touch service delivers a life-changing experience for you and your family.
After nearly 15 years in the business of giving back—and the client growth to show for it—we think we’ve made a compelling case for taking a simpler, more personalized approach to philanthropy.
Denise Castonguay, President