Why Incorporate? It may not be the best option
Once you've incorporated, you're on the radar and have many legal obligations to fulfill, including but not limited to taxes, having certain policies in place depending on your size, etc. So, sometimes, it's best not to incorporate.
If you have an idea for a project, you may be able to find an existing organization to take you under their wing. That means they will already have systems and processes set up (yay!) and you can spend less time doing administrative loopholes and more time creating positive change. Really take the time to build relationships and see if you can find an organization to let you try out the project there. Trust us, it's a lot more fun to do the work you want to do vs. random misc requirements we're going to outline for your step by step in this wiki.
Alas, if you can't find an organization to take you on, or the organizations that are interested require a lot of control that is cramping your style (weigh it against how much all of the regulations, etc. will cramp your style), then maybe you want to actually start your own non-profit. Cool!
Note you can still be an informal, non-incorporated group if you'd like. Grassroots! Some credit unions, such as Alterna Savings in Ontario, allows non-incorporated groups to even open a bank account.
However, there are some big benefits to incorporating:
-Decreased personal liability - if something goes wrong, it is the organization who may take a lot of the brunt financially and legally vs. you personally (not that you totally remove yourself from liability with this option)
-More grants and funding become available to you
Okay, we still want to incorporate
You've got many options.
While this website focuses on non-profits, there is a whole spectrum of ways to do social good with different business structures.
<Insert Jonathan's slide>
If you want to become a non-profit (not a charity) in Canada there are a couple options:
1) Federally incorporated
[Fun fact: even if you are federally incorporated, in Ontario you may still need to get an Ontario business number for certain types of filings. Federally incorporated had higher fees in our experience]
2) Provincially incorporated
Fun Fact: If you have more than $10,000 in one year from government grants, based on our experiences if you are a certain size you may be required to undergo an audit or review for 3 years after. These can be expensive, running several thousand dollars, so...wow! Be careful about that! More requirements are in the attached powerpoint presentation, read the section on "soliciting corporations"
Read This Powerpoint For Details (And, if you have time, help add its content onto this wiki)
This powerpoint was put together by a volunteer when we were considering our options, it lists many of the specific requirements and differences between incorporation types - federal, provincial, and charitable. It may be best to copy and paste the data into this wiki, if you have a moment please contribute to this wiki by taking adding the main points and links from this powerpoint into the body of this wiki page. Thank you!
Uploaded at this site, for viewing or download: https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/xlTj2oljPmpZ8G