Canada has a "Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act" and British Columbia has a "Society Act". I only recently discovered that there was a "Society Act" when reading about name registration. When planning to register a name for my new not-for-profit organisation in BC, I found that it mentioned that "societies" must have a suffix of "society", but I wasn't sure what a "society" was. So, are a non-for-profit corporation and a "society" one-and-the-same in BC? I was going to give my not-for-profit a "Inc" designation, but I am unsure now.

The society act can be found here www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96433_01 and the not-for-profit corporations act can be found here http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-7.75/


In British Columbia (BC), non-profit organizations are just called a "Society" while other provinces may call such a "Non Profit Organization". Prince Edward Island calls such a "Non-Profit Association" for example.

There's no difference between the two terms in BC.

Having "Society" as a suffix of your organization is no different than from a Corporation business name suffixed by "Inc." or "Ltd." So Societies (in BC) can not use "Inc." as a suffix, only Business Incorporations can.

This suffix is mostly for legal and banking reasons. Let's say your non-profit organization was going to be called the "Sunshine Coast Bicyclists", on paper it would be "Sunshine Coast Bicyclists Society" but you could carry on as simply "Sunshine Coast Bicyclists" informally.

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  • Keep in mind that the Provincial government of BC has proposed Bill-24 which replaces the current Society Act (of BC) which includes some changes which may or may not apply to your organization depending on the size of the group. mondaq.com/canada/x/443526/Charities+Non-Profits/… cccc.org/news_blogs/noteworthy/2015/04/16/… – Alex Reid Nov 25 '15 at 11:37
  • Thank you, this is a great answer. I wish I could speak with you further to ask a couple more questions, but StackExchange does not have a personal messaging system. If you have another website I could contact you at, please leave a link for me here. Thanks again. – ADJenks Jan 7 '16 at 1:24

In NZ societies are more like clubs, for example a local sports club.

If you have a look at the purpose sections of both of the acts it might also make things more clear. In the societies act one you provided, in S2, it seems they are specific about what can and what cannot be a society.

It also seems to talk a lot about members. Societies are made up of members, where not-for-profit organisations are made up of employees, etc.

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  • Thank you for your input, but I think I will wait for an answer specific to my Country and Province of topic. – ADJenks Nov 14 '15 at 18:41

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