Non-Profit Member Rights and Participation (Societies Act FAQs)

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This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society (PLEO) in May 2021.

Member Rights

What are the rights of non-profit members?

Members who are not directors have certain rights. Members have a right to vote at a members’ meeting (Annual General Meeting or Special General Meeting) unless they belong to a non-voting class of members. Voting members have the right to requisition a members’ meeting, provided they meet the required threshold of 10% of voting members (or less if the bylaws provide). Voting members also have the right to submit a members’ proposal, provided they fulfill the requirements of the Societies Act including meeting the minimum threshold of 5% (or less if the bylaws provide).

All members have the right to receive written notice and reasons for their expulsion and the right to make reasonable representations to the non-profit regarding their expulsion. Members have the right to request the attendance of the non-profit’s auditor at a meeting during which the financial statements or the appointment or removal of the auditor will be considered, provided the non-profit receives a written request at least 7 days before the meeting. Finally, members have the right to inspect records listed under s. 20 of the Societies Act, though the non-profit may impose a notice period and time restrictions.

What can a member or director do if the non-profit isn't following its bylaws or the Societies Act?

Many disputes can be resolved internally through communication and cooperation. However, sometimes this is not possible. Non-profit disputes are governed by the Civil Resolution Tribunal. The CRT has a solutions explorer which you can use to determine what remedies are available in your situation.

Member Participation

Can anyone become a member of the non-profit?

No person has a right to membership in a non-profit, unless the bylaws say otherwise. Under the Societies Act, it is up to the directors of the non-profit to accept or deny memberships for any reason and without giving reasons, subject to the non-profit’s bylaws. However, once a person is a member, there is a process that must be followed (s. 70) to discipline or remove that person as a member.

In addition, the Societies Act requires that individuals be 19 or older to become members, unless the bylaws state otherwise.

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