While ONN doesn’t focus on individual governance or administration of nonprofits (learn more at What We Do and Don’t Do), here are some frequently asked questions and resource listings for further reading.
I want to start a nonprofit organization. Where do I start?
Firstly, make sure you really want to start a new organization. There are 55,000+ nonprofit organizations in Ontario and there is likely one already operating that has the same passion and interest as you do. Try to find like-minded organizations and meet with them to explore whether you have a common interest. It’s hard work starting, operating and maintaining an organization. Start by talking with organizations in your local community to explore what they do and if there is potential to connect your idea.
Check out the Canada Revenue Agency list of Canadian charities or 211 Ontario to find out about other organizations. There is currently no single list of nonprofit organizations in Ontario, but ONN is currently working on this and advocating for a searchable online resource.
ONN does not provide advice regarding starting a nonprofit or charity. There are many resources from other organizations that you might find helpful:
How do you select or remove an auditor?
It is the Board of Directors’ responsibility to research and recommend an auditor for the organization, but it is the members at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) each year that approve the auditor. (Check your organization’s by-laws for specific requirements.) The Board can recommend a different auditor if they choose and provide its rationale to members. Typically, at a meeting prior to the AGM, board members pass a motion to “recommend” an auditor. Then, at the AGM, the treasurer or another appropriate board member asks the membership for a motion to “approve” the auditor for the coming fiscal year.
It is good practice to seek out audit quotes every 3-5 years, even if you are pleased with your auditor, to ensure you are paying a fair rate for the service you are receiving. Remember that it takes time to put together a request for proposal or quoting process as well as evaluate the audit candidates, so start this process 3-4 months before the AGM.
If your organization is unhappy with your auditor during the audit process, address your concerns directly with your auditor or audit firm and check your written contract to review what your options are for amending or cancelling the contract.
What are the reporting requirements for a registered not-for-profit organization in Ontario? What about a registered charity?
You first need to know if your organization is registered provincially (under the Ontario Corporations Act) or federally (under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act). The federal rules only apply if registered federally and provincial rules apply if registered provincially. This will be on your letters patent or the documents your organization filed to register.
If your organization is registered provincially, here is the link to reporting requirements (Part 5: Corporate Maintenance): http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/nfpinc/.
If your organization is registered federally, here is the link to reporting requirements (check out Corporate Records and Filing Obligations): https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs04956.html.
If your organization is also a registered charity (remember, in order to be a registered charity, you also have to be registered as a not-for-profit organization), you also have to follow the Canada Revenue Agency’s reporting requirements: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/checklists/.
What if I don't know if my organization is registered provincially or federally? Where can I get proof?
Find your incorporation documents – your letters patent, your by-laws, your application for incorporation. This is essential information to keep in a safe place!
Your proof of being a nonprofit is in your Letters Patent with your incorporation number stamped on it.
As a registered not-for-profit in Ontario, do our bylaws need to be registered with a government office?
Yes, your original by-laws would have been filed with the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and you do need to re-file if you have changed your by-laws. You should also be filing an annual report with the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services with your list of current board members and other information that is required.
Check out the Incorporators Handbook and the section on filing and reporting: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/pgt/nfpinc/.
For nonprofits incorporating in Ontario, do directors of boards need to be Canadian citizens or residents? What about registered charities?
There are no residency or citizenship requirements to be on a Board of Directors of a registered not-for-profit organization in Ontario or a registered charity.