Non-Profit Senior Managers and Officers (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.

What is a senior manager?

A senior manager is any individual that is appointed by the directors to exercise their authority and manage the activities or internal affairs of the non-profit. Senior managers can be an employee, contractor, or volunteer, so long as they exercise decision-making authority. A senior manager is not automatically a manager who is in a senior role. A senior manager of a non-profit is similar to an officer in the business world: they are a category of people with particular duties. Every non-profit should be very careful about delegating its authority to anyone outside the directors or an employee by contract.

What is the difference between a director and an officer?

A director is a person in charge of managing, or supervising the management of the activities and internal affairs of a non-profit. Directors are elected by the membership subject to the bylaws.

Officers are directors who have been given specific responsibilities. These roles are usually president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. The directors with these responsibilities are often referred to as the executive.

Do we have to have a secretary and a treasurer?

No. The Societies Act is silent on board positions. They are set out in the optional Model Bylaws, which is why many non-profits have these roles. The directors of the non-profit can share the duties of the various positions or assign them to individuals. The important thing is that records are maintained, minutes are taken, financial statements are prepared, and that there is a board policy that covers how these basic functions are done.

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