Non-Profit Member Rights and Participation (Societies Act FAQs)
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society (PLEO) in May 2021.|
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.
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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