Become a charity

Charitable status is granted by the Government of Canada to organized groups that have been formed for purposes which meet the public good and who seek federal tax relief for their operations and the right to issue tax relief receipts for donations. Charitable status is granted and regulated by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which has an excellent overview of conditions to be met by applicants, who must demonstrate that:

activities and purposes of the organization provide a tangible benefit to the public,
those people who are eligible for benefits are either the public as a whole, or a significant section of it, in that they are not a restricted group or one where members share a private connection, such as social clubs or professional associations with specific membership; and
activities of the organization are legal and comply with public policy;
Although it is not required by CRA, a first step in meeting the test for legal operations could be to register as a non-profit organization at the provincial or territorial level. All Canadian provinces and territories have regulatory bodies which govern the legal establishment of nonprofit community groups. Here is a list of helpful links:

British Columbia
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Nunavut: English French
Ontario: English French
Prince Edward Island
Filing Requirements Every successfully registered charitable organization must file an annual return with Canada Revenue Agency which discloses income, records the names of paid or unpaid directors, affirms the purpose of the charitable organization, reports on activities and records the amount and nature of all taxation relief which has been issued by receipts. This requirement is in addition to any requirement for an annual report to a provincial or territorial regulatory body. For more details, check the essay Non-profit vs Charity at the Community Services Council Newfoundland and Labrador, a partner in this awareness project.