Happy Anniversary!!

May 8th, 2013 | By | Category: Updates
We threw a garden party in August 2009 to celebrate becoming an official Canadian charity and enjoyed a crystal bowls performance by Valerie Bates. It took about a year and a half to get the charity designation but was completely worth it!


We threw a garden party in August 2009 to celebrate becoming an official Canadian charity and enjoyed a crystal bowls performance by Valerie Bates. It took about a year and a half to get the charity designation but was completely worth it!

Recently, Dale and I were pleased to realize that the Africa Village Project Association had just passed its fourth anniversary of getting official charity status in Canada. On April 17, 2009, we became an official charity, vetted by and registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Getting accepted by CRA took about one-and-a-half years and caused many gray hairs. I submitted the application on November 24, 2007, when the AVPA was barely six months old. In September 2008, we got notice that our application was rejected, mostly for a lack of specifics. However, we were allowed to appeal this decision.

I had heard that getting charity status was difficult so wasn’t surprised by our rejection. I blitzed what I hoped would be a persuasive appeal. It was 49 pages long, with detailed explanations, photos, revisions to our constitution, and eight appendices, which contained financial statements, project costs, copies of emails, etc. By this time, I had much more information to give CRA, including procedures we had set up and our accomplishments in Okaseni Village.

Oh, joy!! In May 2009, we got the good news. We were an official registered charity! This designation confers huge benefits, especially for a small organization like the AVPA. We could now give official receipts for donations, so our supporters can claim their donations on their taxes. Official status also gives us credibility and assures donors that we comply with the Canadian government’s regulations and rules for charities.

Dale and I show off the letter we received in May 2009 from CRA informing us that the AVPA had been given registered charity status. We are also celebrating another anniversary this May.

Dale and I show off the letter we received in May 2009 from CRA informing us that the AVPA had been given registered charity status. We are also celebrating another anniversary this May.

CRA requires that we submit an annual report detailing our activities and finances for each fiscal year. (Our fiscal year is August 1 to July 31.) We must disburse 80 percent of the funds we receive each year and should spend no more than 10 percent on fundraising.

We are good about disbursing 80 percent each year. On our bi-annual trips to Tanzania, we spend that year’s funds during our trip. On alternate years, we wire funds to trusted people in Tanzania (Melki, the Okaseni Village chairperson, and Salma, our assistant), who spend the funds as required and then send us receipts. When we go back to Tanzania the following year, we can see the results of the funds we sent.

We are even better about not spending more than 10 percent on fundraising. In fact, we don’t spend any on fundraising – or on operating expenses, overhead, supplies, etc. Dale and I cover all expenses, which we keep to a minimum. We pay all our travel expenses to Tanzania on our trips every second year. One hundred percent of donations go the village. We work hard to get the most bang for the donated bucks we receive and make sure that the ventures we fund have the greatest positive impact on the village. You can rest assured that your donation goes a long way in Okaseni Village. (You can donate at our website www.africavillageproject.org, and check out our annual statements on the CRA website at www.cra-arc.gc.ca.)

By the way, Dale and I are celebrating another anniversary on Monday, May 6 – our 23rd wedding anniversary. He is a great guy and a wonderful co-director of the AVPA who has been a critical factor in its success. Thanks, Dale, I couldn’t do it without you!!

Cheers,
Sheena

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