Regardless of the creator of the charities, all sports activities should be the main focus of the organization’s efforts, and they do not themselves carry out a charitable purpose. The sports activities are ancillary and incidental to carrying out a charitable purpose. This is a hard but clear distinction that the charity has to make.
Because of the nature of a sporting activity, sports activities themselves directly advance a recognized charitable purpose. Whose activities promote physical activity for their members or customers by way of concentrating on a particular sport, or on a limited range of sports as hobbies, pastimes, or entertainment. If a charity’s purpose for which it is registered is not specifically restricted to men or women, the charity must show why it cannot allow both genders to participate in its sports activities.
While competition may be a component of the sports activities, opportunities to participate should not exclude less skilled teams or individuals from participating equally (for example, when teams or individuals who lose a match are disqualified, and only the winners have continued opportunities to play). Encourage public participation in healthy physical activity—for example, to practise any healthy sport—based on the beneficial effects of becoming more physically active. When the primary purpose is to provide a facility, it would be acceptable for the facility to also organize sports as an incidental activity.
A sample of sporting activity with charitable outcome is the Wheelchair sports programs for people with spinal cord injuries to assist with overall rehabilitation through physical activity. These activities could include, for example, providing subsidies for children of low-income families so they can participate in sports activities in their community. This section is broken down into the four categories of charitable purposes, and gives examples of sports activities that may qualify as furthering a recognized charitable purpose, as well as purposes and activities unlikely to be recognized as charitable.
However if an organization’s sports activities do not themselves further a charitable purpose, it may still be registered if it can demonstrate that its sports activities are ancillary and incidental to its otherwise charitable purposes. Whether or not a sports activity will be acceptable will depend on the facts of each case and the charitable purpose the activity is intended to further. Typically, this will mean that factors such as the effectiveness of a particular sports activity in achieving a charitable purpose, accessibility to the public, and participation levels will be considered.
But be careful, if the purposes or activities of the organization are only (or even collaterally) to promote sport(s), or where it is not shown how all the sport(s) activities clearly further one or more of the organization’s identified charitable purposes, it is unlikely to qualify for registration as a charity under the Income Tax Act. 3.1 Furthering a charitable purpose through sports activities. However, when a recognized charitable purpose is furthered through activities that include sport, or where sport is an incidental and ancillary activity only, the organization can potentially qualify for charitable status.
Although the promotion of sport per se is not recognized as a charitable purpose, there are circumstances in which sports activities can be used to further a charitable purpose. One of the most rewarding benefits of any sports activity is that it can save people’s lives, energise their minds and bodies, help the healing process and spread the power of good health where it’s needed the most. Doing regular exercise such as walking, swimming, going to the gym or participating in team sports can have health benefits, allow you to meet new people, boost your energy levels and even improve your mood.
If you’re looking for youth sports charities that have a more global impact, Right to Play might be the perfect option for you. It provides children from families with financial hardships the opportunity to be involved in summer camps and sports activities. Sports charities that support youth programs can be found across the country.