McGill-Leaks: How Safe is Your Private Information When You Give to a Charity?

Posted by 7 Mar, 2012

The recent posting of confidential information on donors from McGill’s Development and Alumni Department is very unfortunate. http://bit.ly/yI8QtZ
Ardent supporters of McGill will know the University would never willingly release such information so it should not affect their future gifts to the University but it does cause one to think about the privacy of such information.
As a donor, how can you ensure your information is being managed in the most confidential manner?
Most large charitable institutions will use sophisticated database systems to manage their charitable gifts and donor information that are usually well protected. Smaller charities however, may not have such controls and may simply keep their donors’ information on a spread sheet or in a simple database. With the advent of Wiki Leaks, obviously even the most secure systems can be hacked into.
.If you are concerned about privacy of your information, you may wish to ask the charity you are donating to explain their process of managing your private information-what information do they keep about you on their system, is it protected and who has access? You should be comfortable that the charity is taking measures to keep your information confidential.
You can give anonymously, which will protect you on public listings of donors but ultimately your name and information will occur somewhere in the charity’s systems for record keeping and tax receipting purposes so even anonymous giving does not totally guarantee your privacy.
You can give via a donor advised fund or through your local community foundation. This way, the recipient charity never even receives your information. However, be aware that donor advised funds and community foundations will keep your information so it is just as important to know how they will handle your private information as they will be just as vulnerable as McGill depending on the security of their systems.
You can be very selective in the personal information you provide to charities. You may have a business address/phone/email you can use instead of your own personal information. You may be able to use a staff contact instead of your own family name or you may have a foundation associated with your giving and that could be used as the principal contact information.
If none of the above work for you, you might ask the charity to keep your information separate from their computerized lists with secure controls and with very limited access. What an old fashioned idea! While this may be more work for the charity, if they are keen to accept your donation, they may well accommodate your privacy needs in such a manner.
Giving seems to be getting more complicated than ever but it is very important to protect your privacy and make sure those receiving your gifts follow suit.
Need some help with your philanthropic giving? Contact us at: info@philanthropic.ca

(0) Comment Categories : Corporations, Cost-Effective Management, Monitor & Evaluate, Research & Due Diligence, Terry Smith, Wealth Advisors

It’s Tax Time- Remember to Claim Your Charitable Donations!

Posted by 22 Feb, 2012

It is that time to start collecting all those pieces of paper you need to properly file your income tax. Remember to collect all your charitable receipts to ensure you get the most tax benefit from your charitable giving.  These days you will often receive your charitable receipts via email so make sure you have saved those emails or printed off the receipts, in addition to those you may have received via traditional mail.  Every year I create an envelope for my tax receipts. When I receive a charitable receipt, via email or Canada Post, I put a copy in the envelope so when it comes to preparing my income tax, I have all my charitable receipts in one place.  Can’t find a receipt?  Sometimes in our hurry to clean out our emails, you may have erased a receipt or two from the charities you support- not to worry, you can ask the charity to send you a copy so don’t hesitate to contact them- every donation counts!

(0) Comment Categories : Corporations, Cost-Effective Management, Monitor & Evaluate, Research & Due Diligence, Terry Smith, Wealth Advisors

$174,000 Fine for Doing Good- Be Careful with your Giving!

Posted by 5 Dec, 2011

You will see in today’s Globe and Mail http://bit.ly/t9S9UB; the CRA has fined the Reimer Express Foundation this enormous penalty for payments made to non-qualified individuals and charities.
Reimer Express Foundation has supported Christian charities to the tune of $2M annually. The problem is in 2003-2004, the Foundation provided $250,000 of improper donations to individuals and organizations outside Canada that are not approved by the CRA. The CRA audited the Reimer Express Foundation in that year and the Foundation signed a “compliance agreement” saying it would abide by CRA rules and guidelines. This is all well and good, but as revealed in a subsequent audit in 2009, Reimer Express Foundation continued supporting some of the non-qualified charities and continued to provide support to individuals- both which do not comply with CRA regulations, thus they have been fined.
While these gifts may have been made with the utmost of good intentions, Canadian donors and foundations need to adhere to the CRA’s guidelines in providing donations to charities.
As a donor, before you write the cheque, you need to make sure the organization you are about to support is indeed a legitimate CRA registered charity or qualified donee. It is simple to find out this information. Go online to the CRA’s Charity Directorate: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/menu and click on the Charities Listing link to look up the name of the charity you are about to support. If it is a charity or university outside Canada, give the Charities Directorate a call and they will be able to advise you if the organization is a qualified donee. The Charities Directorate toll free number is: 1-800-267-2384; they are open 8:00am-8:00pm. You have no excuse to say you did not know! Still need help? Contact us at: info@philanthropic.ca

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Welcome to Philanthropic.ca

Posted by 30 Oct, 2011

We provide wealthy families, foundations and corporations with a full range of philanthropic services that help achieve the greatest results.

With the celebration of our fifth year of operation, we are proud of our solid expertise and assistance  provided to many donors and foundations. We help donors determine their philanthropic passions, set up and operate foundations, create new philanthropic partnerships, conduct due diligence and research on thousands of charities  and evaluate the impact of our clients’ giving.

Want to increase the impact of your philanthropic giving? Contact us.

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Social Finance

Posted by 30 Oct, 2011

Have you heard about this?

It is also known as social impact investing or mission related investing or social innovation.  Basically, instead of investing your capital into the usual markets, you make an investment, not a grant or a gift, but a real investment in a company that is doing good.  Now isn’t that a great idea- you can take some of your investment funds, and put them to work helping social entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

A “social” entrepreneur is one whose business is focused on addressing a social or environmental issue.  The end result of the business does some social good.  Not only do you hopefully reap a positive economic return, but you will also be contributing to improving social and environmental issues as well.  This is great for donors and charitable foundations as they can put their investment funds to work – doing good – while still keeping their capital invested.  Some social finance investors have indicated that they have received greater returns on these investments than traditional investment markets- even better!  Want to learn more? Visit: www.socialfinance.ca or contact us at: info@philanthropic.ca

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Is Your Charitable Giving a “Gift” or an “Investment”?

Posted by 15 Oct, 2011

Recently I was speaking with some donors who said they had dropped the word “gift” when referring to the money they give to charities and now only speak about their philanthropy as “investments”.   This made me question:  “Is all charitable giving really an investment?”

With an investment, you expect a return, and you usually expect that return to be better than what you initially invested.  Sometimes the investment does not deliver as well as you expected.  When that happens, we sometimes withdraw from that particular investment or we stay the course and hope it corrects itself over time.  We watch our investments, we take corrective action, and hopefully we also reap positive returns.

A gift is something you give someone that you do not expect any return on.  You do it out of the sheer joy of giving something to someone else to make them happy, to wish them well, to congratulate them.  We do not worry about a gift. Once you have given the gift, you do not watch what happens with it, you do not take any corrective action and you certainly do not expect to see it again. Read more

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Charity Tax Scams

Posted by 24 Aug, 2011

Here we go again..

Would you give $2,500 to a charity if you were promised a tax receipt for $10,000? Sounds too good to be true?  Read on!

We first wrote about this in November, 2010 but it bears noting again given recent law suits on the topic.

In Jeff Gray’s Globe&Mail article  (http://t.co/XbqXQIl), he indicates tens of thousands of Canadians have participated in such programs over the past decade, based on the advice of their financial advisors.  Now donors who thought they were getting a good deal are finding the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) knocking on their doors asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes and interest. Charities who participate in such schemes are losing their charitable status. Now there are several law suits against the tax promoters and their lawyers.

Why would anyone think such a deal could possibly be legitimate? Read more

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Is your philanthropic giving making a difference?

Posted by 13 Mar, 2011

After carefully examining all your philanthropic options, finally determining your chosen charity, the size and scope of your gift and then actually transferring your money to the charity, how do you know if your gift will  actually make a difference?

As a donor, you have a right to know that your gift is being used for the purposes intended.

You can use any number of methods, from a simple question such as “What did you do with my gift and is it making a difference?” to sophisticated grants monitoring, analysis and reporting systems. Read more

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

A Philanthropic Plan

Posted by 7 Jan, 2011

A great way to get your philanthropy in shape!

Do you have one?

Do you need one? Read more

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith

Last Minute Charitable Giving

Posted by 26 Dec, 2010

Just finishing your last minute giving?

Are you absolutely sure you know where your money is going and how it is being used?

Imagine Canada has recently produced a very quick introductory “Guide to Giving”. It is a great tool to help you learn a little more about the charities you are considering supporting. It suggests what to look for in a charity, provides information on fund raising and administrative costs and gives useful links. Check it out.

And if you need more help with your philanthropic giving, we are just a click away: info@philanthropic.ca

(0) Comment Categories : Terry Smith