Questions to ask before starting an organization

Like starting a business, it's important to do your research before starting a nonprofit or charity:

  • Is there an organization already doing the kind of work you want to do?
  • Should you become a nonprofit, a registered charity, a social enterprise, or an advocacy group?
  • Do you have a clear understanding of the problem or need you want to address? Is that need ongoing or short-term?
  • If there are other similiar organizations currently operating that already address this need, will you be competing with these groups for funds, resources or clients? Can you work with them to achieve your goals?
  • Do other individuals agree that such an organization is needed? Are they willing to volunteer their time and energy to help get things started?
  • Will you be able to locate the resources and finances necessary to achieve your mission?
  • Do you understand the rules, regulations and requirements of running a nonprofit organization or charity in your region?
  • Once you incorporate, you no longer control the organization. The Board acts as the owner and is primarily responsible for the organization. Are you comfortable being hired as the Executive Director or volunteering as a Board member?
Here is a good resource to start with:
Imagine Canada "Starting an Organization" >>

If you decide to proceed, you would incorporate as a nonprofit first, provincially or federally:

  • Creating a Board of Directors is a legal requirement
  • Process will take a few months
  • Once you receive Letters Patent (incorporation) you should create by-laws

If you want to receive donations, issue receipts and be eligible for most grants, you will be required to gain charitable status with the CRA:

  • You will require a constitution
  • You will likely need a lawyer to help you to draft the consitution and the application
  • Process takes approximately one year

Whether you're looking for volunteer opportunities,
networking events or a job in the nonprofit sector, we can help.