Nonprofit Law Ontario

Nonprofit Law Ontario (NPLO) is a project through which ONN provides legal education and training for public benefit nonprofits.

What is NPLO?

Nonprofit Law Ontario (NPLO) is a project through which ONN provides legal education and training for public benefit nonprofits. This project was initially launched by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) in 2013, and transferred to ONN in 2024.

Nonprofit Law Ontario creates sector-driven collective solutions that help nonprofits and charities meet their legal needs through caring legal education that is:

  • Holistic: The law is just one consideration driving your collective decisions. Our education seeks to realistically situate the law in this bigger picture.
  • Democratic: Participants collectively shape and direct learning experience to meet their needs and often continue to work together in community and networks. 
  • Circular: We learn from your questions and are constantly refreshing content to support an ever growing number of nonprofits. 
  • Approachable and fun: We learn better when we’re having a good time. Learning about the law should empower us, not make us feel intimidated and confused.
  • Cost-effective: Coming together to meet our legal needs is not only cheaper but more effective at addressing common issues and, as a side benefit, identifying opportunities for collective action. 

NPLO does not provide legal advice, representation, or services. This means that we: 

  • Can provide general information but not information specific to your situation or organization.
  • Can offer perspective but cannot give you specific recommendations.
  • Cannot provide legal interpretation and analysis of complex situations.

It is outside the scope of our work to be hired to do things, such as review governing documents, get involved in governance disputes, or otherwise handle complaints. 

Who we teach – NPLO workshop booking criteria

NPLO is designed as a collective solution to provide legal supports to those who cannot afford traditional legal services. NPLO works with existing networks and convenors in Ontario, such as sector associations, funders, volunteer centers, government, professional associations and others. 

You may be a good partner for NPLO if you can convene 20+ public benefit nonprofits to attend.

We do this both to maximize the reach of our limited resources and because participants often learn more when there are more people in the room.

If you are an individual organization not in a position to convene other organizations and would like to attend one or more of the workshops below, please fill out this form to express your interest and we will be in touch when registration opens.

What we teach – NPLO workshop options

NPLO currently offers the following live workshops for your network or convening. 

TopicDescriptionLengthTarget audience
Introduction to Transitioning to Ontario’s Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)This webinar gives highlights of what is new in the ONCA, the steps nonprofits need to take to transition to the ONCA, and how NPLO’s free resources can help you create ONCA compliant bylaws or revise your current ones.75-120 minutesExecutive directors or board members of provincially incorporated nonprofits that are not: co-ops, condos, businesses.
Bring Your Own Bylaws: ONCA Transition Working SessionIn this working session, participants will work through their bylaws and letters patent and a special workbook to identify what they might want or need to change in order to comply with ONCA.4-5 hours (broken into 1 or 2 sessions)Executive directors or board members of provincially incorporated nonprofits that are not: co-ops, condos, businesses.
Incorporating as a nonprofitGroups are not legally required to incorporate to pursue nonprofit activities. This workshop looks at the rules that apply to unincorporated associations, the choice whether or not to incorporate, and the process for those who choose to incorporate.60-120 minutesGrassroots and unincorporated groups concerned about what laws currently apply and considering incorporating.
Applying for charitable statusThis session, which may be combined with “incorporating as a nonprofit”, gives an overview of the charity application process, common pitfalls in application, and explains some of the key criteria when applying for charitable status. 60-120 minutesNew or established organizations considering applying to be a registered charity.
Legal Aspects of Governance 101: Roles, Rights, Relationships, and ResponsibilitiesThe law is just one of many aspects of good governance. This session looks at some of the key players (members, directors, and officers) in nonprofit corporate governance from a legal point of view. We explore the roles, rights, responsibilities, and relationships of each. Ultimately, the session highlights tough choices in designing governance systems.60-120 minutesNonprofits of all kinds, preferably provincially incorporated, but still largely relevant to unincorporated associations and federally incorporated nonprofits.

NPLO can also offer on an ad-hoc basis:

  • Workshops on legal aspects of high priority topics to the nonprofit sector. 
  • Speaking at pre-planned events and classes.

To book a workshop, reach out to ONN staff lawyer, lead for Nonprofit Law Ontario, Benjamin Miller

Workshop pricing

The costs are as follows:

  • $500 +HST for 2-hour workshops 
  • $800 +HST for 4-hour workshops

If partners require a significantly customized workshop or are seeking to develop a new workshop, preparation and development fees will apply on a case by case basis.  

We’ve been grateful for financial support for the development of Nonprofit Law Ontario and the curriculum to date through project-based funding. We are now transitioning to a social enterprise model to sustain the work.

History and acknowledgements

  • 2013: Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) launches project to help nonprofits transition to ONCA, called “Get Ready for the ONCA.”
  • 2017: Project expands to include information on how grassroots groups can incorporate.
  • 2021: ONCA takes effect. Project rebrands as Nonprofit Law Ontario (NPLO), a project of CLEO. 
  • 2022: NPLO adopts networked approach to public legal education and develops innovative methods, including the popular “Bring Your Own Bylaws” workshop.
  • 2023: NPLO reaches 6,000+ participants at 120+ workshops, completed legal needs study of the sector.
  • 2024: CLEO transfers the NPLO project to ONN.

ONN is grateful to CLEO for over a decade of partnership and for all that it has done to support the nonprofit sector of Ontario. ONN commits to growing the educational mission and innovative educational approaches to continue serving the legal needs of the sector.

We are also grateful to funders of the past, including:

  • Ontario Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
  • Law Foundation of Ontario
  • Lawson Foundation

Stay informed

If you have any questions about this project, you can reach out to benjamin@theonn.ca. For updates on our project, learnings, and related resources or events, subscribe below!

Subscribe

* indicates required

Blogs

Digging in with ONN is a Decent Work podcast series.
Access all episodes
Digging in with ONN Logo
A newsletter with public policy, network, and funding updates.
Get updates
Email graphic