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When starting or running a non-profit, it can be difficult to keep track of the legal rules you must respect. What’s a registered charity? Can I fire an employee or a volunteer? This web guide provides a compilation of articles that may be of interest.

Non-Profit Organizations: Concepts to Know 

You’re thinking about starting a non-profit organization? You work with a non-profit organization and would like to better understand what that entails? This part of the guide walks you through all you need to know, from A to Z.  

Different Types of Organizations

Incorporated non-profit, registered charity, co-operative, social enterprise … it can be hard to know what kind of non-profit organization is right for you. Learn about the pros and cons of various options.

Interactive Quiz

This quiz helps you choose the legal structure that fits you best.

Summary of Legal Structures

This article presents a summary of each of the possible legal structures for a non-profit organization.

Provincial or Federal Incorporation

Depending on your activities, you have a choice to incorporate provincially or federally.

Registered Charities

A registered charity is a type of non-profit. This type of structure is reserved for certain kinds of non-profits and comes with added responsibilities.

The articles from this point on are for non-profits incorporated under Quebec law. To learn more about federally incorporated non-profits, check out the external sources listed under each topic and Corporation Canada’s website.

Structure of a Non-Profit: The Different Roles and Responsibilities

Non-profits have a lot of important players, such as the board of directors, the executive director, employees, volunteers and freelancers! It’s important to know who does what, as well as which rights and responsibilities each player has.


By-laws are like a rule book for how your organization should be run. They also explain who does what. A non-profit’s board and its by-laws go hand in hand. The board drafts the organization’s by-laws and updates them as necessary. The board must also make sure their decisions respect the by-laws.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Non-profit 

Now that you understand general concepts related to a non-profit, you’re ready to create your own! This interactive tool walks you through the steps for creating a non-profit organization incorporated in Quebec, from the application process to the first directors’ and members’ meetings.

Letters patent are a formal document that you must apply for when creating a non-profit in Quebec.In certain cases, the law allows Quebec non-profits to put different rules in their letters patent or by-laws. If non-profits do this, the rules in these documents apply to it instead of the legal rules described in the following articles.

Running and Managing a Non-Profit Organization

The Board of Directors and Good Governance

A non-profit’s board is responsible for the organization’s overall direction and makes all kinds of important decisions. Handling conflicts of interest, managing risk, and creating internal policies can all be key contributors to an organization’s continued success.  These articles introduce you to the board’s main responsibilities and the basics of board meetings.

Human Resources and Rules When Working with Others

Working With Freelancers

Freelancers, also called self-employed workers or contractors, are sometimes called in to help an organization with specific tasks. While they work alongside others in the organization, freelancers are not employees and different rules apply to them.

Working with Volunteers

Volunteers often play a key role in non-profit organizations. From recruiting a volunteer to making sure they’re well prepared to do the tasks assigned to them, it’s important for organizations to understand what their obligations are.


Copyright protects original work, like images, videos, and music. It’s important for you to know who owns the copyright for an original work and when a non-profit can use someone else’s work.

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