Why give to Amateur Athletics?

How To | August 11, 2016

With Rio 2016 in full swing, the news abounds with discussion of athletic performance, competitors, and the sports that make the Olympic Games a pleasure to watch. But where did the athletes get their start? In Canada at least, many international athletes get their start with a Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Association, or RCAAA.

What is an RCAAA?

As defined by Canadian Federal legislation, an RCAAA is a sports organization that “has the promotion of amateur athletics in Canada on a nationwide basis as its exclusive purpose and exclusive function” that can accept donations and give out tax receipts. That is, RCAAAs are sports charities that must function on a national level, effectively benefiting only athletes who compete internationally; they have no mandate to do anything except advance the skill of Canada’s national athletes. The law was originally enacted to remedy Canada’s poor performance in 1968 in Mexico City.

Giving to Sports Organizations

A donation to an RCAAA is great if your goal is to support Canadians competing on the international stage. But what about local sports teams and athletes who are not affiliated with a national organization?

Due to a Supreme Court ruling (Amateur Youth Soccer Association v. Canada), sport on its own is not a valid charitable pursuit. Sports-based charities that are not RCAAAs must also benefit some other segment of the charitable landscape, like education or poverty reduction. This is why your local little league team can’t give you a tax receipt when you donate outside the Canadian Tire. Luckily there are lots of sports organizations that have achieved charitable status and are doing great work that builds young athletes and gives back to society. And Canadians have been supportive, giving $193 million to sports charities in 2013.

What do Amateur Athletics do for Society?

Amateur athletics contribute a host of positive benefits to the community, including health promotion, intercultural understanding, education, personal improvement and national unity. Health promotion is particularly important considering studies show that only 3.5% of 12 to 17 year olds meet the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Amateur Athletics Charities

While you are watching Rio 2016, of course, you can donate to any RCAAA listed by the Canada Revenue Agency. But you might also consider giving to some of the highly rated sports and recreation charities listed by our friends over at Charity Intelligence, including:

And don’t forget to get outside and try some obscure Olympic events yourself, like racewalking, dressage, or Tug-of-War (cancelled in 1920).


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