Canada: Legal Issues For Charities And NPOs On Social Media Networks

Last Updated: May 16 2018
Article by Jordyn Allan

Maintaining a social media presence can be a huge asset for charities and non-profits as they pursue their missions and mandates. These networks are powerful tools that can be used to reach wider audiences, increase brand awareness and outreach and facilitate fundraising. However, given recent attention around the repeated data privacy issues of certain social media platforms and the nonexistence of regulations surrounding social networks, non-profits should consider how best to protect themselves while maintaining an online social media presence. This article addresses three risks and potential mitigation strategies.

CRA issues

Charities using social media must ensure they understand the risks involved. When auditing a charity, it is not unusual for CRA auditors to review the charity's social media content to assess the charity's compliance with the Income Tax Act (the "Act"). Charities should be cognizant that the information they are posting to their various social media accounts is compliant with the Act and falls within the ambit of the charity's stated purposes.

For example, the rules around private benefit dictate that a registered charity should be cautious when posting information to a social media account that may publicize a business unrelated to the charity. Depending on the content, such post may be viewed by CRA as providing an undue private benefit to the business (i.e., the business may benefit from the 'free' marketing provided by the charity using the charity's resources). Further, as discussed in our October 2013 Newsletter, charities should be cautious that their social media posts, no matter how brief, do not constitute prohibited political activities. Providing an undue private benefit and engaging in prohibited political activities are both cause for sanction by CRA.

Organizations are well-advised to review and monitor their social media presence on an ongoing basis, and implement practices and training so that employees and volunteers understand the organization's charitable purposes, what is acceptable to post to social media on behalf of the organization and the impact of social media posts on the organization.

Privacy Issues

The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronics Document Act ("PIPEDA") regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by private sector organizations and applies to all organizations that collect, use and disclose personal information in the course of commercial activity. Because the protected personal information must be collected in the course of commercial activity, there is question as to whether PIPEDA applies to charities and non-profits generally (although in some cases the application is clear).

Further, certain provinces (namely, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec) have enacted privacy legislation applicable to organizations operating in those jurisdictions; and importantly, donor information as well as certain other information collected by charities and NPOs is caught by it. It follows that while not all privacy legislation is applicable to charities and NPOs, in some instances (whether intentionally or unintentionally) personal information about an individual that is posted to a charity or NPO's social media page without their knowledge or consent could breach that organization's federal or provincial privacy obligations. Accordingly, organizations are advised to remain cautious about what they are posting to social media.

Organizations should ensure that they take steps to identify and comply with all applicable privacy legislation. Any employee, contractor or volunteer of the organization who may be called upon to manage an organization's social media accounts should be required to confirm that they have read and understand the policy. Additionally, safeguards such as the limited distribution of account passwords should be implemented to prevent or reduce the risk that someone gains access or "hacks" the organization's social media accounts. Where an organization wishes to post to its social media account any personal information collected through the course of its activities, it should ensure that it obtains the necessary consents to do so.

Posting Photos

Photos, including photos of employees, members or the general public, may constitute personal information, and as such, caution should be taken when posting photos to social media platforms. For example, charities and NPOs are well advised when holding events to obtain consent from attendees whose photos may be posted to social media. This consent may be requested and provided, for instance, upon registration for the event.

Particularly, where a photo posted is that of a child, the legal risks increase substantially. Subject to minor exceptions, a contract entered into with any person under the age of majority is not enforceable. Further, consents signed by one or both parents or the parents and the minor are not bulletproof either. Canadian courts have waived parental consent as being ineffective simply on a policy basis.

Organizations are advised to consider the risks before posting photos. This may mean, for instance, implementing a policy that strictly prohibits posting photos of minors. If an organization does decide to post photos of minors, risk can be mitigated (though not entirely avoided) by implementing a privacy policy and putting procedures in place to obtain robust consents from parents.

Generally, it is recommended that an organization implement policies and procedures that minimize the legal risks associated with using social media. This includes training protocols to educate volunteers and employees on these risks. The lawyers in Miller Thomson's Social Impact Group can help to develop appropriate social media policies.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Jordyn Allan
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions