What is a CanadaHelps Fund

General Information

The funds in your charity account allow donors to designate their donation towards a specific program.

There are two types of funds that charities can have:

  • Restricted: specific designations that require charities to use any donations collected for that specific purpose.
  • Unrestricted: designations that allow the charity to decide how the donations collected under these designations will be used. 

 Restricted funds:

  • must be used toward a specified designation/purpose.


  • A school foundation can set up a Scholarship Fund, meaning all donations must be used to contribute to a scholarship.
  • Food banks can have a specific fund designation for Breakfast Food, another for Non-Perishable Food Items, and another for Fresh Produce.
  • Disaster relief organizations often have designations for specific emergencies such as the Australia Wildfire Relief Fund or the India Covid-19 Response.

Unrestricted funds

  • can be used in whichever way a charity sees fit


  • Unrestricted funds usually go toward operating expenses of the organization.


  • You will notice a pre-set General Fund designation already set up on your CanadaHelps account that cannot be deleted. 
  • Administrators can add as many fund designations as they wish to allow donors the choice to allocate their gifts. 
  • Fund designations can be thought of as directions given to the charity by the donors. 
  • Donors can also use the message box to indicate how they would like their donation to be used by the charity. For ease in reporting, it is highly recommended that charities use fund designations.

Funds vs Campaigns

  • A common mistake that charities make is using Funds and Campaigns interchangeably. 
  • To avoid making this error, it may be easier to think of Funds as HOW the donations will be used and Campaigns as WHERE the donations are coming from. 
  • Charities can run a Peer-to-Peer campaign named “Let’s expand our reach to raise funds for a new building. In this case, the fund designation could be named “new building fund”.
  • This fund designation should include but not be limited to donations collected during the Peer-to-Peer campaign. 


Here are some more concrete examples of how our charity partners use CanadaHelps Funds:

  • In this example, the Calgary Food Bank has created one unrestricted Fund (A General Donation) and three restricted Funds. 
  • Donors have the option to designate their donation and inform the charity for what use they would like their donation to be allocated, i.e. Milk Purchases. 
  • In this example the Canadian Red Cross has an unrestricted fund, “Where It’s Needed Most”. 
  • All the donations designated for this fund will be used toward whichever program the charity deems appropriate. 
  • The rest of the Funds are restricted since they have a very clear purpose, “India COVID-19 Response Appeal”, etc.

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