Spring cleaning is one of the most dreaded times of the year for many people. In fact, 34% would rather run a mile, 31% would rather read Moby Dick, and 22% would rather get a bad haircut than do spring cleaning. Why are we talking about this when spring feels so far away? Because like the chore of pulling out refrigerators to clean them, vacuuming window blinds, and decluttering storage closets, church administrators have chores that need to be done to maintain a healthy ministry. These tasks may not be fun and are often thankless jobs. But somebody has to do them.
One example is to understand and adhere to the regulations of the Canada Revenue Agency for churches and registered charities.
By law, churches and registered charities are required to store electronic data in Canada. All books and records must be kept on a server physically located in Canada: “Books and records maintained outside Canada but accessible electronically in Canada do not meet the requirement of being kept in Canada.”
In other words, if the data is accessible electronically in Canada (i.e. from a remote server), but is kept outside Canada, the requirement has not been met. It must be stored within Canada. On a server physically located in Canada.
Examples of books and records include the following:
- Governing documents (incorporating documents, constitution, trust document)
- financial statements
- copies of official donation receipts
- copies of annual information returns
- written agreements and contracts
- board and staff meeting minutes
- annual reports
- bank statements
- expense accounts
- payroll record
So why does this matter? According to the CRA, “Failure to keep adequate books and records may result in the suspension of a registered charity's tax receipting privileges, or the loss of its registered status.”
It will also affect the church’s godly witness to the community, whether intentionally or not.
So before you trust any service to help you manage your data, be sure to ask them the following question: “Will my electronic data be stored safely on a server with a physical address in Canada?”
If you would like some help with this issue, please reach out to us. We have years of experience designing online tools that help Canadian churches meet government regulations with flying colours. And yes—in answer to the question you should be asking your providers—our servers are all physically located in Vancouver, Canada. Any church that uses Sunergo is automatically fulfilling electronic data storage requirements for donation receipting.
We may not be able to clean out your gutters or replace your furnace, but we can take care of your data—the Canadian way.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and reflects the opinion of the author. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on as professional advice. You should consult appropriate professionals for your specific situation.