Here in Step 3 we will discuss the basic information needed to establish a constitution. As of November 2016 the only information that can be
written on that document is the society’s full name and its purpose/
No by laws or policies can be included. Existing groups will be required to change their constitution to match this new law by 2018.
To qualify for registration as a charity, an organization must have purposes that are exclusively charitable and charitable activities that support those purposes. The purposes (also called objects/activities)/mandate) describe the aim or main intent of the organization. The activities describe how the organization will accomplish its purposes.
Keep in mind that when you apply for a grant, the funding body you are applying to, will want to make sure that the reason you give for needing the funds MUST be in line with what your constitution states your purposes are. Therefore, give this serious thought. Make sure that you do not simply have as your purpose something like – to feed people – to support whatever you are supporting. You need to have the purpose include, as briefly as possible, how you intend to accomplish your purpose.
So think larger, outside the box so that you can state in about 3 lines what your purpose is and how you do it. You can consider for example: The blending of diverse communities, through interactive events, exhibitions, communication and networking OR To support and improve the lives of inner-city children, regardless of need, ethnic background or any other divisive occurrence. Through the raising of funds, distribution of blah blah, and all that encompasses. This should give you a bit of an idea of how the purpose/object/activity should read.
You do not want to register the society and then find that you were not complete enough in your description of your purpose for being a non-profit, and omitting the how or not stating clearly. Do not make it too long, that is where the hard part sometimes comes into this, there may be so much you want to do and say, but the Registrar wants it simple. An idea might be to list all the things that you imagine you may try in order to achieve your purpose, then see how many of these items can be connected or achieved through one thing, for example if you are going to be needing money to feed, give, or allow you to proceed, then perhaps the word fundraising needs to be included. If you are also going to need or want community involvement then include that as well.
Think of it this way, if you are asking for funding, then so are many other groups, the competition is hard, the funds are limited, so what makes you special, worthwhile, deserving? What are you wanting to do that will definitely be charitable, benefit a large portion of the public, fill a need that has gone unseen, be a new way to accomplish your object? If you can verbalize this then can it be included in or consider to be understood within your purpose/object/mandate? Then when the funding body reads your purpose and compares it to what your activity is, they will match. It is unlikely that you would get funding for something you want to do that does not come under your purpose. If a group has a purpose of, for example - feeding Children and you are asking for funds to make a play ground, you will be denied because the funds are not in keeping with your purpose as stated in your constitution.
As of November 28 2016 ALL societies registered in BC must come into compliance with the new rules and regulations by 2018 as stated by the new BC Societies act. If you are already registered then if you do not transition by 2018 your charity will be dissolved. However if you are just starting you will begin with the new rules and regulations as set out on the Government of BC website. So spend some time registering your name and develop your constitution and then you will be ready to proceed with the new steps.
Our next article will be titled HOW TO TRANSITION YOUR SOCIETY, where we will give you links, information and so on, to assist you in the transition process if you are already registered and if you are in the process of starting up we hope the article will assist you as well. You can do this with or without a lawyers help, it is up to you, if in doubt and if you have the money to pay for a lawyer, that could be the way to go, for those already established, this next article could help you navigate your way through the process and save you some money.