When you run a nonprofit, buying property is a big task. You need time to get your finances together — and in that time, other buyers can snap up the land. That’s where the Nonprofit Registry for Public Benefit Lands can help. This registry, which is run by the Ontario Nonprofit Network, can give you early access to affordable government-owned lands. That way, you can save money and find great properties, all with less competition.
Understanding the Nonprofit Registry for Public Benefit Lands
This ONN registry is simply a list of nonprofits that are ready to buy real estate. Whenever a public property goes up for sale in Ontario, you get an alert. The benefit? You get access to the listing before it goes up on the open market. That way, you have time to get your financing in order. Plus, you don’t have to compete with buyers in the general public. Since these surplus lands are sold at market value, they’re more affordable for your nonprofit.
The ONN set up the Nonprofit Registry for Public Benefit Lands as a public service. By helping nonprofits like yours buy property, it helps bring your services to the people of Ontario. It’s important to note that ONN only administers the registry. If you find a property you like, Infrastructure Ontario handles all of your questions, as well as the sale process.
What Organizations Can Join the Registry?
Before the ONN allows you to join the Nonprofit Registry for Public Benefit Lands, you must meet their eligibility rules. First, your organization should be a registered charity and be in good standing with the Canada Revenue Agency. Alternatively, you can be incorporated as a nonprofit group without share capital.
If you want to buy land with another nonprofit, that organization must also be on the registry, which means that you can’t join if you’re buying with a for-profit company. In addition, you need to:
- Register as a member of the ONN
- Provide a service or public benefit to the people of Ontario
- Serve a group that is not closed or narrowly defined
- Show proof that you’re an asset to the community through funding, donation records, or investment
- Have bylaws that prevent your members from getting your assets if your organization dissolves
- Prove that you have the finances and leadership to buy real estate
How Can You Apply for the Registry?
If you plan to apply for the nonprofit registry, you can save time by joining ONN first — you need a member number for your registry application. The application is available online and requires you to pay a fee. To complete the process quickly, it’s a good idea to have information about your nonprofit handy. Things you need include:
- Incorporation date and number or charitable registration number
- Financial statements in digital form
- Your organization’s purpose
- A breakdown of your operating budget
- Transparency disclosures
By making it easier for nonprofits to find government-owned properties, the Nonprofit Registry for Public Benefit Lands helps Ontario residents and organizations like yours. If your nonprofit meets the ONN’s criteria, the registry can make it easier to find affordable real estate to help you carry out your mission.