FB10. What does the CRA mean by “the public”, and a “sufficient segment of the public”?

FB10. What does the CRA mean by “the public”, and a “sufficient segment of the public”?

Short Answer

Many registered charities target their charitable activities to the public at large, but others may focus on a specific segment of the public, for example, the homeless, or women who need a shelter because of family violence. The CRA does not necessarily focus on the number of people in the public being assisted.

A church wishes to form a registered charity in order to raise funds to provide a scholarship to several deserving students who wish to attend medical school, and then serve as missionary doctors. Such a group could be registered as a charity, even if it only benefits a few students per year.

For example,

  • women who need a domestic shelter; and
  • groups found within a reasonable geographical area, such as recent immigrants to a given city.

Generally speaking, the CRA accepts that a “sufficient segment of the public” will include groups that need a certain service. However, such a group generally may not be limited artificially or in a discriminatory way. Restrictions on eligibility must be based on criteria that have a logical connection with the activity. Where it is necessary to place restrictions on participation or access to the activity they should be based on empirical evidence, such as academic research. For instance, it would be acceptable to base scholarship eligibility on academic performance, but generally not acceptable to base it on race.