The power of your unclaimed money: how BC’s unclaimed funds are serving residents and supporting charities

June 27, 2024

In the previous months, we’ve discussed how money becomes unclaimed, why there is so much money still unclaimed, and now we’ll discuss how unclaimed money is being used to benefit British Columbians while it’s waiting to be claimed.

Your money is here for you always

First, we’ll begin by explaining something that makes BC Unclaimed different than other Canadian unclaimed property jurisdictions. Take for example, the Bank of Canada, which has an expiration period if it’s not claimed within a period of time. BC Unclaimed funds don’t expire, your unclaimed money is here for you always. This leads to the second thing that makes us unique; BC Unclaimed is currently the only unclaimed property organization in North America where every year a portion of unclaimed funds is put to work for British Columbians. This means while unclaimed funds are waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners, they can be used to support charities and non-profits across BC through our annual donation to the Vancouver Foundation. A calculation is used to determine how much we can donate every year. Every owner’s funds can always be claimed and the amount someone is entitled to is not diminished by the donations. Over the past twenty years, BC Unclaimed has donated over $59 million to the Vancouver Foundation. This month we are making our largest annual donation yet, a staggering $9.5 million.

The importance of BC’s unclaimed funds to communities

BC Unclaimed’s donations to the Vancouver Foundation are “unrestricted”. Kate Hammer, Vice President Engagement at Vancouver Foundation and BC Unclaimed Board Member explained at our 20th anniversary last fall that unrestricted donations are given to the Vancouver Foundation with “a mandate to do what is needed most by community”. This type of donation allows their Grants and Community Initiatives department to determine where the money can make the greatest impact. Kate highlighted that often they will use this money to support organizations that are otherwise overlooked. This can be multi-year operational funding which ensures the money can address root causes of issues such as food insecurity or providing affordable green energy services to rural Indigenous communities. The other benefit of unrestricted donations is it allows the Vancouver Foundation to rapidly respond to community needs during emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the catastrophic flooding in fall 2022. This way, the province’s unclaimed money supports British Columbians in need and is being used to build stronger, more resilient communities for the future.

How do British Columbians benefit from the existence of our Society

Aside from our charitable donations, we think all British Columbians benefit from our existence. BC Unclaimed is a free service —British Columbians don’t have to pay to claim their funds from us. Residents also aren’t paying for this service through tax dollars because we are not part of the provincial government. We’ve chosen to keep the service free. The Unclaimed Property Act does allow for the Administrator (that’s us) to charge for our services, but in our 20 plus years of operations we have never needed to. The province’s dormant assets are carefully managed by us to ensure we will always be able to pay out claims and make annual donations to charity. We consider it a “win-win” because British Columbians’ funds are always available to be claimed, but while we’re waiting to find the owners or have the owners find us, this money can be put to good use by charities and not for profits throughout BC.


As the caretaker of unclaimed funds, we can ensure British Columbians will be able to claim their money at any time and offer this as a free service. It also means British Columbians’ unclaimed money can make a social impact across the province. As we’ve demonstrated in our previous blog posts, there will always be more money becoming unclaimed as people move, or pass away, so our donations to the Vancouver Foundation don’t stand in the way of you claiming your money from us. This is a service we’ve been providing for over 20 years, which means while your unclaimed money waited for you to claim it, you can take comfort knowing it helped build a better future for all British Columbians.

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