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/


3 Answers 3


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.


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.

  • Thank you for your input, but I think I will wait for an answer specific to my Country and Province of topic.
    – ADJenks
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 18:41

These are three different words;

  1. Society

  2. Non-Profit (Incorporated)

  3. Charity (Needs to be registered with CRA)

A Charity needs to be either a society or an incorporated non-profit. But a society need not be a charity. But most Non-Profits are. The word charity is mainly for taxation purposes.


  • I didn't ask anything about charities, but thanks I guess, it might be useful to someone else.
    – ADJenks
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 6:07

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