Working with Other Churches
If your church is working with other churches to sponsor a refugee family, you need to keep in mind that your United Church congregation is a registered Canadian charity. As a charity, you are obligated to ensure that all funds you receive support your charitable purpose. Canadian charities can send money between themselves, as long as the funds support their charitable work. As a congregation you will need to report money received from and sent to other charities (called “qualified donees”) on the charitable tax filing with Canada Revenue Agency.
If a group of churches who are all registered charities are working together, each congregation will need to take the following steps:
- Pass a motion ensuring that they have “owned” refugee work as their own charitable work, linked to their charitable purpose. Be sure to read the pdf listed at the end of this page, titled “Template for documenting support of refugees as the church’s charitable work.”
- Ensure that each congregation has a record of the registered charitable number of the other churches involved.
- If one church is taking the lead on disbursements supporting sponsored refugees, they should establish a separate bank account for that purpose and follow all the usual practices of sound financial management, record keeping, and project monitoring.
Working with a Community Group
In many Canadian communities, groups of volunteers are coming together to help sponsor a refugee family. Often these groups don’t have a legal structure and are not a registered charity. Churches, as registered Canadian charities working with these groups, have some particular obligations for accountability to Canada Revenue Agency.
As a charity, you will need to have a signed agreement with the group, and establish other processes that demonstrate you have maintained direction and control of charitable funds and are assured they are being used as directed and in support of your charitable purpose.
Please review the document “Congregations Supporting Community Based Refugee Work,” listed at the end of this page, to understand the church’s obligations as a registered Canadian charity, and how we have to work with community-based groups so that will do not violate Canada Revenue Agency requirements.
Some churches may work with multiple community sponsorship groups. Below are two memorandums of understanding that can be adapted to suit your congregation’s circumstances. The first is for a church working with a sole community based sponsorship group; the second is for a church working with multiple community based sponsorship groups.