Is The Fur-Bearers a non-profit or a charity?
The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (The Fur-Bearers) is a registered non-profit organization (S-4222). Due to our committed and unapologetic advocacy for fur-bearing animals and wildlife, under Canada Revenue Agency regulations, we are not eligible for charitable status.
Though the terms "non-profit" and "charity" are often used interchangeably, a non-profit differs from a charity in a number of ways, most notably: a non-profit organization is not able to issue a tax receipt while a registered charity can. Registered charities are also eligible for considerably more grants and government funding than a non-profit. Many people ask why The Fur-Bearers does not have charitable status, and in order to answer this, a quick review of The Fur-Bearers history is needed.
Why can’t The Fur-Bearers have charitable status?
The Fur-Bearers was started in 1953 and actually began as a registered charity. The mandate was to expose the inherent cruelty associated with killing animals for the commercial fur trade.
In 1998, despite having had charitable status for decades, Revenue Canada (now the Canada Revenue Agency) contacted The Fur-Bearers stating that they “made a mistake” and that The Fur-Bearers should never have received charitable status in the first place. The Fur-Bearers was committed to showing the public the truth about the fur trade, however since charities in Canada cannot criticize a legal industry, our work was not considered a charitable endeavor. They also argued that we were spending more than the allowed 10% of our revenue on advocacy campaigns. Revenue Canada made it clear that unless The Fur-Bearers was willing to change its mandate, our charitable status would be “annulled”.
Photo: Article from the Toronto Star, January 5, 1998
The Fur-Bearer's volunteer Board of Directors refused to be silenced, and believed that the organization’s work to expose the horrors of the fur trade was more important than being a charity. The Fur-Bearers carried on as usual, lost charitable status, and has continued ever since as a non-profit.
There were consequences to losing charitable status, primarily with funding, which was initially reduced by 50%. However, many supporters continued to support The Fur-Bearers, understanding that The Fur-Bearer's work was so critical they were willing to forgo a tax receipt. There were (and still are) benefits to being without charitable status in Canada.
The silver lining: freedom to demand better for animals
Despite a loss in funding, without charitable status, we are now able to work harder than ever to push for an end to the commercial fur trade and meaningful legislation that protects fur-bearing animals and other wildlife. Every day we take full advantage of the opportunity afforded to us by being a non-profit (and not a charity).
For example, we work in municipalities across the country to end the use of bodygripping traps (leg-hold, Conibear, and snare) and have had great successes. We are fighting to ban the import and sale of dog and cat fur in Canada. We lobby municipal and provincial governments to end the trapping and culling of wildlife, and do so with great success. We encourage the development of laws at various levels of government that offer animals more protection. Much of this lifesaving work would not be possible if The Fur-Bearers had charitable status.
We are able to do all these things and more, thanks to the humbling generosity of individuals who care more about animals than they do tax receipts.
We thank each and every one of them for their continued support.
Photo: Article from Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe, November 1, 2002