BC’s New Societies Act: What types of organizations will be affected?

May 18, 2016

Over 27,000 non-profit organizations in BC will be governed by the new Societies Act when it comes into force on November 28, 2016:

  •  Applies to all organizations currently registered under the provincial Society Act
  • Registered charities, religious societies, philanthropic organizations, professional associations, sports clubs and teams, churches, community centres, fraternal groups, etc.

One big change in the new legislation is the distinction between two different types of society: the member-funded society and the publicly-funded society. Societies who wish to transition into member-funded societies will have certain steps to follow during the transition process. What is the difference between the two types of societies?

Member-funded societies are a type of “special society” that receive most of their funding through their members (through dues, usually) and their activities and services are primarily for their own members. Some examples are sports clubs, golf courses, and professional/trade associations.

(Technically there is also a second type of “special society”: the Occupational Title Societies. This type of society will be grandfathered into the new legislation; that is, existing registered Occupational Title Societies will be transitioned, but no new Occupational Title Societies will be permitted to register after November 28, 2016[5].)

Publicly-funded societies collect funds through public donations or from government funding. A few examples of publicly-funded societies are registered charities, student societies, hospital societies, and service organizations.

NB: When looking at the legislation, you won’t see the phrase “publicly-funded society”. That term applies by default to any society that isn’t a member-funded society or occupational titles society.

On the whole, member-funded societies have a lower regulatory burden than publicly-funded societies. You can learn more about the differences in this chart.

[5] http://www.fasken.com/the-new-british-columbia-societies-act-what-comes-next/

Please note that this article is offered only for general informational and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or opinion. 



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