Red Road Lodge seeks charitable status to help residents on the path to recovery

Richard Walls, owner of the Red Road Lodge, is hoping fundraising will be much easier with his organization registered as a charity. Cindy Titus

Just as the Red Road Lodge helps residents through the recovery process, management hopes getting charitable status will help the lodge through the fundraising process.

The lodge first applied for charitable status in 2007. While the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) did not reject the application after the standard two-year review, they did have a few questions about it.

Richard Walls, owner and chair of the lodge’s board, said they chose to withdraw their application and resubmit a revised one later. There is no right of appeal if the CRA turns them down, notes Walls.

“When we had applied, we were a relatively new organization,” he said. “Our goals and objectives then may not have been in line with one that would get charitable status.”

When the organization started out, he notes, their bylaws were too broad for the CRA. An organization that mixes housing, arts, culture and sports in order to benefit specific individuals does not fit the CRA’s definition of a charity, Walls said.

“We really did need to clean up our mission statement and how we operate,” he said. “We’re now ready to apply.”

The lodge has since brought on an accountant to provide the CRA-required audited financial statements, notes Walls, something they couldn’t afford three years ago.

According to general manager Beverly Roberts, gaining charitable status is important for the lodge because it will help attract both small and large donations through the provision of tax receipts.

“It will also allow people to plan their giving on a monthly basis or put us in their wills,” Roberts said.

Most importantly, both Walls and Roberts agree that it would help the lodge get grants from the Winnipeg Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding community and social improvement.

“We can only make grants to charitable organizations,” said Marie Bouchard, community grant co-ordinator with the Winnipeg Foundation.

“While getting charitable status does take a long time, it gives donors and funders a measure of comfort because the CRA is providing oversight on the work of these organizations.”

The Compassionate Friends, a group that supports bereaved parents, appreciates the benefits that charitable status brings.

“It gives legitimacy to our organization,” said Susan Taylor, office co-ordinator for the Compassionate Friends.

Ultimately, charitable status would help raise funds to improve kitchen and laundry facilities, hire more staff and give residents more materials like linens.

“Private donors and larger foundations are interested in what we’re doing with homeless or Main Street development,” Walls said.

Published in Volume 65, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 7, 2010)

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