Fundamentals of Running a Private or Public Foundation in Canada 2023

A 7-hour course on how to run a private or public foundation in Canada

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This course was updated and recorded on July 5 & 6, 2023.

Private and Public Foundations are an important part of the Canadian charity sector. There has been increased scrutiny and attention on their activities as the number of private foundations has grown substantially along with their assets.

This program will focus on compliance issues with an emphasis on those specifically relevant to running a private or public foundation that is a registered charity in Canada. While some foundations give out a small amount each year – others are giving hundreds of millions. Large gifts might have been $10-20 million a few years ago but are now $100 million and over.

There are over 11,000 foundations (6,656 private and 4,835 public) and CRA is increasingly auditing them as CRA prioritizes higher risk registered charities with higher assets and expenditures for audits. It is vital that directors and staff of foundations understand their legal obligations to avoid problems such as compliance agreements, penalties, revocation, and directors and officers becoming ineligible individuals.

[If you are involved in running a charitable organization that is an operating charity, you might find this course more helpful.]

Topics include:

  • An overview of the private and public foundation sectors
  • A brief overview of the process to establish a private and public foundation and current challenges
  • Myths and fallacies about public and private foundations
  • Key documents to understand your foundation
  • Key issues for your foundation
  • What are the differences between a charitable organization, public foundation, and private foundation
  • Constraints that apply to private and public foundations and which are most important
  • The importance of legal objects of foundations and how they can limit activities
  • Control and organization of foundations
  • The importance of the separation of charitable foundations from non-qualified donees such as an affiliated bank or for-profit entity or non-profit
  • Having more flexibility through changes in corporate documents or set up as well as possibly having multiple entities
  • Corporate law considerations, by-law, and policies
  • Investments and related compliance issues
  • Maintaining your corporate foundation
  • Receiving gifts or endowing foundations and avoiding problems
  • Making grants to qualified donees and potential pitfalls to be aware of
  • Structuring gift agreements with grantees
  • Making grants to non-qualified donees in Canada and outside of Canada and the need for direction and control according to CRA Guidance
  • Top compliance concerns for private and public foundations
  • Transactions with directors and compensating directors and the complexities related to it
  • Top mistakes made by private and public foundations
  • How much should you spend on administration?
  • Rules around fundraising and grant writing
  • Disbursement quota rules and how the 2010 reforms made many changes
  • Anti-Avoidance rules and designated gifts
  • Some ideas on good governance for foundations and some grant-making good practices
  • Due diligence on grants
  • How to deal with a CRA audit and factors CRA uses to determine who to audit
  • Criticisms of foundations and strategies to avoid reputational problems

Fundamentals of Running a Private or Public Foundation in Canada 2023 will be of interest to:

  • staff and volunteers at private and public foundations responsible for governance, financial management and compliance issues;
  • professional advisors such as lawyers, accountants, investment advisors who advise private and public foundations; and
  • board members of Canadian foundations.

For lawyers, this course qualifies for 7 hours of Law Society of Ontario Substantive Hours but does not qualify for Professionalism Hours. For accountants, this may count as 7 hours of Continuing Professional Development.

Your Instructor

Mark Blumberg
Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg is a lawyer at the law firm Blumbergs Professional Corporation (Blumbergs) in Toronto and works almost exclusively advising non-profits and registered charities on their work in Canada and abroad. Mark has written numerous articles, is a frequent speaker on legal issues involving charity and not-for-profit law. He is the editor of a blog,, and created the largest portal of data on the Canadian charity sector, Mark also edits, which provides information on due diligence when selecting charities.

Mark is particularly interested in the regulation of non-profits and charities in Canada, philanthropy, transparency requirements for the voluntary sector, providing accessible information on regulatory issues, and the use of data to make more informed decisions on the charity sector.

Mark is quoted regularly in print media and frequently appears on radio and television on topics relating to philanthropy and the regulation of charities in Canada. Mark has also appeared on a number of occasions in front of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on topics such as charity regulation, transparency, accountability and tax incentives for philanthropy. Mark has testified at the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and the House Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Mark has also made presentations to the Charities Directorate Annual All Staff Meeting as well the Annual Divisional Staff Meeting of the Determinations Section of Charities Directorate. Mark presented to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) when the FATF conducted an evaluation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism in Canada in 2015.

Mark sat for 4 years on the Charities Directorate Technical Issues Working Group, which is a bi-annual meeting between the Charities Directorate, the Department of Finance and the charity sector to discuss technical and policy issues pertaining to registered charities and the Income Tax Act (Canada). Mark is a member of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association. Mark spent 6 years on the Advisory Committee for the Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership (MPNL) at Carleton University. Mark is on the Board of the Canadian Charity Law Association.

Mark has co-authored 20 Questions Directors of Not-for-Profit Organizations Should Ask About Mergers (Published by CPA Canada) and co-wrote a chapter on International Trends in Government-Nonprofit Relations: Constancy, Change, and Contradictions in Non-profits and Government: Collaboration and Conflict in Non-profits and government: collaboration and conflict (Edited by Elizabeth T Boris and C Eugene Steuerle)

Mark frequently lectures to various industry and professional groups on charity compliance issues including the Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada), as well as CPA Ontario, BC and Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Association of Gift Planners, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Ontario Hospital Association, Ontario Non-profit Network, and many other organizations.

Mark has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, an LLB from the University of British Columbia and an LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School in Tax Law.

Course Curriculum

  Fundamentals of Running a Private or Public Foundation in Canada
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Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and you will have access to it for at least one year! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

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