Canadian charities say building partnerships with local organizations is tough. This new Senate bill may change that

Bill S-222, a Senate bill, would loosen “direction and control” rules seen by major Canadian charities as unduly restrictive.

Why It Matters

If passed, Bill S-222 could undo a decades-old rule that Canadian charities say prevents them from building fair, equal partnerships with grassroots organizations, rather than hierarchical and colonial relationships.

If the Mastercard Foundation ever wanted to give a million dollars in scholarship money to McGill University, a major Canadian post-secondary institution, arguably the most complicated task on its to-do list would be writing the cheque. 

McGill is a registered charity recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency. As a qualified donee, it is considered to be capable of appropriately handling gifts and donations for charitable purposes. Jennifer Brennan, head of Canada programs at the Mastercard Foundation, says the grantmaker could simply give over the money in a variety of ways. 

Running the exact same program at Ashesi University, a prestigious university in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, would mean mountains of red tape. The Mastercard Foundation would have to, under Canadian law, collect receipts for all expenses paid by Ashesi University to administer its program —

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