Learn more about societies by clicking one of the links below.
- What is a society?
- What is the purpose of incorporating a society?
- How do I incorporate a society?
- How does my society become a registered charity, hold a fund-raising event, or apply for a gaming licence?
- How can our society handle internal disputes?
- How can I become an effective board member of a society?
A society is an incorporated group of five or more people who share a common recreational, cultural, scientific, or charitable interest. The Societies Act regulates societies incorporated in Alberta.
Incorporation is not mandatory; the decision up to each group. There are several advantages to incorporating a group.
- Members of societies may not be held responsible for the debts of the society.
- Societies may own property and may enter into contracts under the society's name, as opposed to its individual members entering into a contract.
- The public's perception of a society is that an incorporated group has a more formal, permanent status than an unincorporated group.
- Note: Societies may not incorporate primarily to carry on a trade or business.
Step 1: Chose a name.
- Your society’s name must not be the same, or similar to, any other society or corporation's name.
- A society name is made up of three parts, or elements, all of which must be present in the name but not in any particular order. Those elements are: distinctive element, descriptive element, legal element.
- Here is an example of a society name that contains all three elements: John Smith White Water Rafting Memorial Foundation.
- The 'distinctive element' of a name is a unique word or location that makes the society’s name different from others. In our example, the distinctive element is 'John Smith'.
- The 'descriptive element' of a name describes what the society is or does. In our example, the descriptive element is 'White Water Rafting Memorial'.
- The 'legal element' of a society name must be one of the following words:
- In our example, the legal element is 'Foundation'.
Step 2: Get a NUANS Report.
- Corporate Registry will examine this report to determine whether your group can use the name you have chosen.
- If you choose to have a name that is similar to another name, you will need to obtain written permission from the other group to use the similar name.
Step 3: Complete the forms.
- Complete the application to form a society (pdf).
- You must include the society's objects (objectives, purpose)
- The objects must be non-profit in nature; the society cannot be formed for the purpose of carrying on a trade or business.
- Make sure that at least five people sign the application and that their signatures are witnessed.
- You can use the standard application or you can create your own application form.
- If you create your own application form, you must make sure it includes all of the same items as the standard form.
- Complete the society bylaws form.
- The bylaws set out the way the society is organized and the rules surrounding its activities. e,g. rights and responsibilities of members, meetings, appointment of directors.
- You can use the standard bylaws or you can create your own bylaws.
- If you create your own bylaws, you must make sure they deal with all of the issues referred to in the standard bylaws.
- Complete an address form.
- Send two copies of your application, bylaws, and address forms, along with a copy of the NUANS report.
- Your information will be examined to ensure it meets the requirements of the Societies Act.
- If the requirements are met, a certificate of incorporation will be sent to you.
- Some non-profit companies may be eligible to become registered charities. Review the Canada Revenue Agency website for detailed information.
- In particular, ensure your company objectives and dissolution provisions meet the 'charitable' requirements.
- Your non-profit company may need to register if it plans to conduct any fund-raising activities. Learn more about Alberta's requirements for charitable organizations.
- The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is responsible for issuing gaming licences for charitable organizations.
- Societies must be prepared to resolve their own internal disputes.
- Corporate Registry does not supervise the conduct of societies, nor does it provide a counseling service on matters other than forms and the documents filed with them.
- To ensure that internal disputes are handled fairly, Corporate Registry recommends adoption of a bylaw that outlines an mediation or arbitration procedure.
- You can learn more about the ethical and legal responsibilities of serving on a board as well as the roles and responsibilities, committee effectiveness, recruiting and orienting board members, and board/staff relations. See Alberta Culture's Board Development Program (BDP).
- The BDP offers hands-on board governance workshops free of charge for nonprofit boards and has a variety of online resources that can be downloaded from its web site at no cost.
- Forms - Societies
- Fees - Societies
- How to Form a Society Tipsheet