Charities & Not-for-Profit


Miller Thomson has one of the most sophisticated charities and not-for-profit practices in Canada. We provide voluntary sector organizations with legal services designed to meet all of their needs. We advise Canadian and International organizations on all aspects relevant to their activities including, tax, regulatory matters and cross border funding.  We offer these specialized services in both English and French.

The members of our group have expertise in the particularly complex regulatory income tax regime under which our clients operate. The role we assume is either that of a General Counsel (available to provide an organization with access to a broad range of services and support from other key practices at Miller Thomson), or that of a Special Counsel who provides specialized charity law assistance together with the organization’s usual legal counsel. Our lawyers represent charities successfully in contentious CRA audits. We write text books on charity law, including tax and other regulatory regimes. We also present at all major Canadian legal and sector conferences on charities and not-for-profit issues. Our lawyers are active in government relations on behalf of the charities and not-for-profit sector.

We offer clients a value-added approach catered to each organization’s needs. Whether advising on tax compliance strategies and structures for charities and non-profits operating across multiple jurisdictions, helping to secure and structure mission-related investments, or restructuring charities and non-profits to generate revenue from innovative sources, we have the specialized knowledge and experience needed to help organizations achieve a sustainable long-term advantage.

Nationally, we help our clients:

  • Comply with Income Tax Act (Canada), Taxation Act (Quebec) as well as Canada Revenue Agency and Revenue Quebec requirements
  • Conduct internal compliance audits and advise on risk management
  • Understand provincial laws on investments, privacy and fundraising
  • Incorporate in jurisdictions across Canada
  • Comply with annual corporate requirements – meetings, minutes, and filings
  • Consider and implement governance and by-law changes
  • Anticipate and resolve corporate governance issues and disputes
  • Plan and execute corporate integrations and restructurings
  • Protect against liabilities
  • Obtain charitable status
  • Harmonize foreign and domestic operations of registered charities
  • Maximize the impact of fundraising and gift agreements
  • Engage in social enterprise and social finance
  • Create governance and operational policies dealing with issues such as investments, gift acceptance, and conflicts of interest
  • Address general legal matters, including real estate, employment, health law, charitable gaming, education law and intellectual property needs
  • Provide direct advocacy support on complex matters

Notable matters

Our national team has delivered value-added legal counsel in a variety of recent engagements, including:

  • Advising small and large charities and not-for-profit organizations under Canada Revenue Agency audit
  • Establishing new organizations and working with them through the startup phase
  • Merging chapters of national organizations into one entity
  • Advising social entrepreneurs on mixed purpose structures
  • Drafting agreements to structure collaborations between organizations
  • Establishing relations between Canadian charities and affiliated foreign charities
  • Advising advocacy organizations on political activity limits
  • Restructuring the governance of a long standing non-profit to meeting changing needs

Top Ranked Practice

Miller Thomson is recognized as a top-ranking Band 1 firm for Charities and Not-For-Profit in the 2024 Chambers Canada Guide.


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