Generally, charities can issue receipts for donated cash or other property provided that the transfer is voluntary and the donor has no expectation of return other than something of nominal value.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers a benefit to have nominal value when the fair market value of an item, privilege or gift does not exceed $50, or 10 per cent of the amount of the gift, whichever is smaller.

All tax receipts must include the following information:

  • A statement that the receipt is an "official receipt for income tax purposes."
  • The donor's name and address.
  • Your organization's tax number, name and address, registered with the CRA Charities Directorate.
  • The amount of the cash donation or the fair market value of a non-cash donation.
  • The date of the donation (the year is sufficient for cash donations).
  • Canada Revenue Agency's name and Web site address.
  • A serial number.
  • The signature of the individual authorized to issue receipts.

There are, however, other circumstances where the receipts must contain additional information, such as cash or non-cash gifts that provide the donor with an advantage. The CRA provides sample receipts here(external link).

Some donations are not eligible for tax receipts. These include:

Old clothes, furniture, home baking, hobby crafts and similar items, unless they have an extremely high value.

Works of art donated by the artist unless the individual sells the item to your organization and then donates the cash. The donation receipt can offset the taxable income of either the artist or the artist's spouse or common-law partner.

When a third party, such as a corporation, donates a work of art, your group can issue a tax receipt for the value of the work. Generally, the CRA doesn't require valuations for works of art with a retail value of less than $1,000. Otherwise, obtain an independent appraisal.

Services such as computer consulting and design work, unless your organization pays for the service and the donor then donates that cash.

Sales of tickets for lotteries, raffles or other games of chance where there is an expectation of more than a nominal return. Your organization can, however, issue a tax receipt for the difference between the purchase price of a ticket to a gala, such as a dinner, ball, concert or show, and the fair market value of the food or entertainment.

The fair market value of admission to a fund-raising gala is determined by comparing it to the usual or estimated charge for a similar profit-making function. This also applies when the price of admission to a gala includes the chance to win prizes or awards with more than a nominal value.

Sponsorships when the sponsor receives a benefit such as advertising or promotion. These sponsors can deduct the sponsorship as a business expense.