If you’re devoted to social welfare, civic improvement, or recreation, you may be thinking of starting a non-profit corporation. You have many choices when starting a Canadian not-for-profit corporation, since these enterprises can take the form of athletic organizations, charities, professional organizations, service organizations, and social clubs. But the requirements for creating a federal non-profit are fairly rigorous, and you have to meet certain rules to maintain your organization.
How to Create a Canadian Federal Non-Profit Corporation
You can create your non-profit by filing a request through the Corporations Canada Online Filing Centre. You need to prepare some documents before you can complete your filing. These documents include:
- Articles of incorporation (Form 4001)
- The initial registered office address for your new corporation, plus a listing of the first Board of Directors (Form 4002)
- The required filing fee, which is based on the type of corporation you’re forming
You must also complete a Nuans name search report on the name you’re proposing for your corporation. The report must be less than 90 days old, and if you have a letter from Corporations Canada showing any existing approval of the name, you should include that as well.
You don’t need to have your bylaws in place to form your corporation, but you need to file them with Corporations Canada within the first 12 months of your non-profit’s existence, so have your new Board of Directors turn their attention to bylaws at your very first meeting.
Maintaining Your Non-Profit
After you’ve been granted non-profit status, you have more steps to take to get your non-profit organization off the ground and keep it going. Get started by appointing officers at your first board meeting and choosing an accountant, since maintaining financial records is of supreme importance to any non-profit. You also need to set up your banking arrangements, and you may need to conduct some other business right away, including leasing offices or other property, employing new staff, and purchasing insurance to protect your company.
In addition, make sure you’ve taken care of any registration your province or territory requires. You may need to handle extra-provincial corporate registrations, fundraising registrations, and business name registrations — and you may need to renew these annually, so make a note in your tickler file to avoid running into problems down the line. Check with your provincial or territorial government as well to see whether you need permits to conduct any of your activities, including bingo permits, liquor licenses, or lobbying registration.
What About Taxes?: The Requirements for Charitable Organizations
Just because you’re a non-profit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exempt from paying taxes or filing tax returns. Only those non-profits formed for charitable purposes are exempt from paying taxes, and you have to file some additional paperwork to get that privilege.
The Canada Revenue Agency can help you prepare your incorporating documents if you’re registering as a charitable organization. Taking care of all this documentation when you’re first registering your non-profit can save you time and money later, since you have to pay extra fees if you don’t register correctly upfront. If your non-profit isn’t a charitable organization, make sure to include taxes among the expenses in your business plan.
Getting your non-profit organization started requires a good amount of paperwork, including permits and registrations. Corporations Canada and your provincial or territorial government offices can help you start off on the right foot.