FB7. Is it permissible for our church to charge participants fees in programs that we offer?
Many charitable programs charge fees. Charging fees does not necessarily mean that your program is not charitable, or that it is carrying on an unrelated business. A program such as yours remains charitable as long as it maintains two essential characteristics of a charity: altruism and public benefit. The CRA has developed some guidelines about fees. A fee charged for a charitable program will generally be permissible if:
- the fee structure is designed to cover the costs of the program rather than generate a profit;
- the program does not offer services comparable to those otherwise available in the marketplace; and
- the fees are set according to a charitable objective as opposed to a market objective.
Some examples of permissible fees include rent in low-income housing programs, university tuition fees and museum admission. Remember that the activity undertaken must be authorized by your charity’s objects or purposes.