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New rules for charities

A total of 120 charities have signed a new code of ethics that promises donors honesty and more bang for their buck.

A total of 120 charities have signed a new code of ethics that promises donors honesty and more bang for their buck.


Many more are in the final stages of agreeing to tough new fundraising and accountability rules, says the philanthropic group trying to improve donor trust in Canada.


“These charities are aspiring to be the best in the way they conduct fundraising. They want to be ethical and they want to be known to be ethical,” said Georgina Steinsky-Schwartz, president of Imagine Canada.


The list includes big charities like United Way of Greater Toronto, SickKids Foundation and Plan Canada. Smaller ones like the Red Door Family Shelter in Toronto and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver also made the list.


With 82,000 charities in Canada, Steinsky-Schwartz realizes they have a long way to go.


“What pleases me the most is how serious charities are taking this. They are doing quite a bit of due diligence, checking to see if their organization is complying with ethical fundraising rules in the code.”


Each charity has then been checked out in a sort of gentle scrutiny by Imagine Canada.


The group looks at its charitable financial returns, asks some questions of staff, and requires the chair of the board and executive director to sign the code and make certain representations.


For example, charities that sign on vow they will never use commission-based fundraising, which the Toronto Star has found often leads to aggressive tactics — some canvassers are not paid unless you donate.


They also promise to avoid misleading or fake claims. Donors who have a problem with a charity should complain first to the charity.


If their complaint is not answered satisfactorily they can make a formal complaint to Imagine Canada, which has a volunteer committee of experts that will look into the problem. The only enforcement teeth it has is to remove the charity from the list of code signatories.

 
 
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