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Big news from the CRA

Two very important changes happened recently at the CRA's Charity Directorate. First, the T3010 dataset is now available as open data! For those visitors who aren't from Canada, the T3010 is our charity tax filing - our equivalent of the American's 990.

Secondly, they are now typing in in all of the gifts supplied to them on the Qualified Donees worksheet.

These are both incredibly important changes and supporters of the non-profit sector should be thrilled to see the Directorate move in this direction.

First up, Open Data?

Every time we present at non-profit events or at open data conferences, we have reiterated the importance of making this data available as open data. We have been using it since we launched in 2009, but we had to request permission to make commercial use of it and the only way to access the data was to fax a request to the CRA Charities Directorate (requests couldn't be made by email or over the phone). They would then burn the data onto a set of CDRoms and send those to you - and those were only available as Microsoft Access or Excel files.

Now the data is publicly available to download through the federal open data portal and the license permits commercial use.

We want to congratulate the CRA Charities Directorate as well as the Federal Open Data team for their work freeing up this dataset. The CRA Charities Directorate has long been on the forefront in making high-quality charity data available to the public. Some other countries with very large charitable sectors are still working on digitizing their charity information, something the CRA has been doing since the early 2000's. There are still improvements to be made, such as improving the labeling of some of the datasets to indicate that they only contain information for one year as well as releasing the data more frequently (once a year is inadequate for some use) but overall this is a big step forward.

Secondly - Qualified Donees?

The CRA requests that all charitable organizations have to report all of the grants they made to other charitable organizations. Those are referred to as gifts to qualified donees and they are to be listed on a separate worksheet. However, they never actually published all of the grants that it received. Some years they would publish the first ten, other years, up to 25. It is reasonable to assume that they did that to save the labour of typing them all in.

This fall, all of the sudden, we started seeing hundreds and even thousands of gifts to qualified donees. Example - 6000 grants made by the Toronto's United Way. United Way TorontoList of Gifts to Qualified Donees

Compared to in 2005 for the same organization where there are only 10 qualified donees available.

This is a huge change, because for the first time, we will have a record of every single grant made by a Canadian charity or foundation in a year!* Finally we will be measure things like average grant size and if the CRA keeps this up in upcoming years, we will be able to learn things like how philanthropic organizations like foundations and churches actually move from one charity to another and one cause to another**. It is also already helping us as a service provider make improvements to our funder research service, Fundtracker.

We tip our hat to the CRA and we're excited to continue to work with our partners in order to take advantage of this important increase in data about the Canadian philanthropic sector. Way to keep Canada on the forefront of charitable data, CRA!

*Note: There has been no official notice from the CRA about the change in publication of QDs. We have verified that there are 3,385 charity filings in 2012 with more than 10 gifts reported on their QD worksheet but we have not checked to see if that is all of the gifts reported to the CRA.

**Something which is also notable is that they seem to be going back to filings from previous years to include QD worksheets with more than 10 gifts. Judging from the drop in numbers as you go back in time, it's safe to assume that those previous years do not have complete listings of the gifts.

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Breakdown of QD worksheets per year with over 10 gifts:

*2012* Public Foundations: 416 Private Foundations: 946 Charities: 2023

*2011* Public Foundations: 135 Private Foundations: 257 Charities: 1181

*2010* Public Foundations: 52 Private Foundations: 94 Charities: 375