Records and minutes

The Income Tax Act and Ontario’s Corporations Act (OCA) require nonprofits to keep records. If you don’t, you may lose your nonprofit or charitable status. This page points you to information on what records you need to keep, where to keep them, and for how long. Resources are not up to date for federal nonprofits.

Notice: This information is not comprehensive. There are other laws that require certain nonprofits and charities to keep additional records. For example, nonprofits that own land must keep special records. To learn more about these and other record keeping requirements, talk to a lawyer.

What files does a nonprofit corporation need to keep?
The article ‘Corporate Record Keeping’ (scroll down to p.4) offers a general list of what files provincial corporations need to keep. There are certain principles you need to keep in mind when it comes to keeping financial records.

How long do we need to keep our files for?
This blog post explains how long the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) expects you to keep your books and records. Permanent files need to be kept for two years following the date of dissolution. Non-permanent files need to be kept for six years starting from the end of the tax year the files relate to.

Registered charities
Registered charities also have to keep:

  • charitable registration details
  • copies of these details as filed or issued
  • T3010 charity information returns, and
  • duplicate charitable tax receipts

The CRA also has more specific requirements on how long and where to keep your records as well as what format to keep them in.

Minutes of meetings

Do we have to keep meeting minutes?
Yes.
You must keep minutes of all your nonprofit’s official member and board meetings, as well as minutes of committee meetings (p.34 of this resource).

What must go in the minutes?
For a general list of things provincial corporations need to include in or can leave out from the minutes of your meetings, read this blog post. The presentation ‘Keeping minutes: getting it down right’ (scroll down to p.33) offers a good overview on the subject. An earlier version of this presentation is also available in audio (1:01).

Why is it so important?
According to Ryan Prendergast (scroll down to p.36) of Carters Professional Corporation, minutes:

  • provide a concise record of deliberations and decisions
  • inform directors, members and people acting for the organization, for example, employees and volunteers
  • inform the courts of decisions made by the organization in future litigation

Reviewed: August 2017