Uncovering Research Potential of Administrative Data on Charitable Foundations in Canada

Iryna Khovrenkov, Lynn Gidluck


This is the first study of its kind to assess the untapped research capacity of administrative data on Canadian foundations. More than twenty years of records collected by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the entire population of foundations is publicly accessible to researchers. Canadian data offers greater opportunity for nuanced analysis of the charitable foundation sector than information from the comparatively small sample available for U.S. foundations. Despite the richness of Canadian data and the potential it has to inform grantmaking and administrative practices of foundations, the academic community has paid little attention to this wealth of statistical information. This article explores some of the questions that this data can potentially answer. Consultations with foundation representatives help illuminate the directions that the foundation sector would like researchers to pursue with this data.

Ceci est la première étude de son genre à évaluer comment certaines données administratives pourraient contribuer à la recherche sur les fondations caritatives canadiennes. En effet, plus de vingt ans de données accumulées par l’Agence du revenu du Canada pour la population entière des fondations sont maintenant accessibles aux chercheurs. Ces données canadiennes représentent une occasion exceptionnelle pour effectuer une analyse nuancée du secteur des fondations caritatives, occasion qui est meilleure qu’aux États-Unis, où l’échantillon est relativement petit. Malgré la richesse des données canadiennes et leur potentiel d’améliorer l’octroi de bourses et l’administration des fondations canadiennes, la communauté académique a porté peu d’attention jusqu’à présent à cette manne de statistiques. Cet article-ci en revanche explore quelques-unes des questions auxquelles ces données pourraient porter des réponses. En outre, des consultations faites auprès des représentants de certaines fondations aident à signaler les directions que le secteur pourrait prendre grâce à ces données.


Administrative data; Research capacity; Community-based approach; Charitable foundations / Données administratives; Capacité de recherche; Approche communautaire; Fondations caritatives

Full Text:



Ayer, Steven, Michael Hall and Lindsey Vodarek. (2009). Perspectives on fundraising: What charities report to the Canada Revenue Agency. Imagine Canada.

Boothe, Paul. (2013). Making good regulation. Canadian Public Policy 39 (3): 359-370.

Card, David, Raj Chetty, Martin Feldstein and Emmanuel Saez. (2011). Expanding access to administrative data for research in the United States. American Economic Association Meetings in Denver, session on "Grand Challenges for Social Science Research: The Perspectives of Economists."

Caroll-Scott, Amy, Peggy Toy, Roberta Wyn, Jazmin I. Zane, Steven Wallace. (2012). Results from the data and democracy initiative to enhance community-based organization data and research capacity. American Journal of Public Health, 102(7): 1384-1391.

Clotfelter, Charles. (1985). Foundations. In C. Clotfelter (Ed.), Federal tax policy and charitable giving (pp. 253-272). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Ebrahim, Alnoor and Kasturi Rangan. (2014). What impact? The framework for measuring the scale and scope of social performance. University of California Berkley, 56(3).

Elson, Peter. (2016). Funding policies and the non-profit sector in Western Canada. Edited by Peter Elson, Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2016.

Hall, Michael, Margaret de Wit, David Lasby, David McIver, Terry Evers, Chris Johnston, and Julie McAuley. (2005). Cornerstones of community: Highlights of the national survey of nonprofit and voluntary organization. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada.

Hotz, Joseph, Robert Goerge, Julie Balzekas and Francis Margolin. (1997). Administrative data for policy-relevant research: assessment of current utility and recommendations for development. Northwestern University and University of Chicago, Joint Center for Poverty Research.

Huetel, Garth. (2014). Crowding out and crowding in of private dontations and government grants. Public Finance Review, 42(2): 143-175.

Imagine Canada and Philanthropic Foundations Canada. (2014). "Asset's and giving trends of Canada's grantmaking foundations."

Innes, William and Patrick Boyle. (2006). Charities, non-profits and philanthropy under the Income Tax Act. Toronto: CCH Canadian.

Khovrenkov, Iryna. (2016). Size-based analysis of charitable foundations: new evidence from Canadian data. Canadian Public Policy 42(3): 337-349.

Kryvoruchko, Iryna. (2013). Does foundation giving stimulate or suppress private giving? Evidence from a panel of Canadian charities. PhD dissertation, Chapter 3, McMaster University.

Lasby, David. (2013). Earned Income Generating Activities Among Canadian Charities. Toronto, ON: Imagine Canada.

Lenczner, Michael and Susan Phillips. (2012). From stories to evidence: How mining data can promote innovation in the non-profit sector. Technology Innovation Management Review, July: 10-15.

Magalhaes, L., Carrasco, C., & Gastaldo, D. (2010). Undocumented migrants in Canada: A scope literature review on health, access to services, and working conditions. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health / Center for Minority Public Health, 12(1), 132–151.

McMurren, Juliet, Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew Young. (2016). Opening Canada’s T3010 charity information return data”. Govlab.

Nixon, Trish. (2013). Mission possible? Assessing the appetite, activity and barriers for impact investing among Canadian foundations. Toronto, ON: MaRS: Center for Impact Investing.

Northcott, Allan and Shelley Uytterhagan. 2002. Practices and policies of private foundations. Max Bell Foundations and Carthy Foundation.

Noveck, Beth Simone and Daniel Goroff. (2013). Information for impact: Liberating nonprofit sector data". The Apsen Institute.

Plant, Brenda. (2003). Mission-based investing: Current practices and perceived barriers among foundations and endowments. Master Thesis, University of Montreal.

Payne, Abigail, and Huizi Zhao. (2007). Uncharitable treatment: Why donations to private and public foundations deserve equal tax status. C.D. Howe Institute e-brief, January 9, 2007.

Payne, Abigail. (2012). Changing landscapes for charities in canada: Where should we go? School of Public Policy Research Papers 5(34), University of Calgary.

Sharpe, David. (1994). A portrait of Canada’s charities: The size, scope and financing of registered charities. Toronto: Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.

Sharpe, David. (2001). A portrait of Canada’s charities: The size, scope and financing of registered charities. (Update of 1994 study). Toronto: Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.

Statistics Canada. (2009). Satellite account of nonprofit institutions and volunteering: 2007. Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada. Catalogue no. 13-015-X ISSN: 1710-9264.

Strandberg, Coro. (2008). Primer: Responsible Investment Pilot Project. Community Foundations of Canada.

Strandberg, Coro. (2010). The State of community/mission investment of Canadian foundations. Community Foundations of Canada and Philanthropic Foundations of Canada.

Young, Bill. (2015). Mission-related investing: Bealight foundation’s approach. Social Economy Center.

Whitman, John. (2006). Evaluating philanthropic foundations: A comparative social values approach. PhD Dissertation, University of Toronto.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22230/cjnser.2017v8n2a248


  • There are currently no refbacks.