The word society is used in BC to mean non-profit organization (NPO). Societies are governed by a law called the Societies Act. The Societies Act sets out the rules and procedures for incorporating, managing, and dissolving a society in British Columbia. 

Societies may be set up for a wide range of purposes, such as daycare, recreation or arts,  sports, and social clubs. A non-profit’s purpose cannot be to make money, but the non-profit can operate a business to support its purposes. For example, a seniors’ network might operate a thrift shop (a business), but all the proceeds go toward providing services and programming for seniors (the non-profit’s purpose).

Incorporation as a non-profit gives it legal status separate from its members. This legal status means the non-profit can do things in its own name, such as borrow money. It also means the non-profit, rather than the individuals, is liable for any debt.

No. To apply for incorporation, a non-profit must provide the names and contact information of at least three directors. At least one of the directors must live in BC.

Yes. The constitution (name and purposes) and bylaws (rules for governing) are the foundational documents for incorporating a non-profit.

The minimum qualifications for directors are they must be at least 18 years of age; must not be incapable of managing their own affairs; must not be an undischarged bankrupt; and cannot have been convicted of an offence in connection with promotion, formation or management of a corporation or unincorporated entity, or of an offence involving fraud.

These requirements are not exhaustive, and the bylaws of a non-profit may set out more requirements. If a director ceases to be qualified, the director must resign promptly.

Membership in a non-profit is decided by the directors. The directors of a non-profit can accept or deny memberships for any or no reason, subject to the non-profit’s bylaws. The law does require directors be 18 or older unless the bylaws state otherwise. Once a person is a member, there is a process that must be followed to remove that person as a member.

No. A non-profit is not required to have a seal.