In B.C., a society is a not-for-profit organization consisting of an organized group of people associated together for any lawful purpose or purposes such as national, patriotic, religious, philanthropic, charitable, provident, scientific, fraternal, benevolent, artistic, educational, social, professional, agricultural, sporting or other useful purposes.
A society may not:
- Have a share structure
- Offer shares for sale or investment
- Distribute gain, profit or dividend or otherwise dispose of its assets to a member except during winding up or on dissolution of the society
A society may (observing the above):
- Collect money as long as all funds and property of the society is used to further the purposes of the society in accordance with its bylaws
- Carry on a business, trade, industry or profession as an incident to the purposes of the society
What Incorporation Means for Societies
Societies are not required by law to incorporate. However, there are benefits to incorporating. When a society is incorporated, it acquires all of the powers of an individual, as well as an independent existence - separate and distinct from its members - and an unlimited life expectancy. If a society is seeking funding, grants or charitable status from the federal government, there may be a requirement to incorporate the society.
A society in B.C. is registered (or incorporated) under the Society Act.
Once a society is incorporated, it needs to maintain its status by filing an annual report and updating registered society information as required.