Starting Non-Profit Transportation Organization

There are several ways to set up the legal structure of your assisted transportation service. In this section, you will find resources to guide you in setting up your service as a non-profit organization or as a society. Please seek legal advice to determine whether a non-profit organization or a society is the best choice for your organization’s purposes.  
Forming a ​​Non-Profit Organization

A non-profit organization is an independent legal entity that is separate from its member or owners. Non-profits are formed for purposes other than generating a profit to be divided to its members or directors. Non-profit organizations can engage in business activities, however, profits earned must be used to further the goals of the corporation.  In Alberta, non-profit organizations are governed under the Companies Act.

Non-profit organizations can be incorporated or unincorporated.
  • Unincorporated non-profit organizations do not have legal status and cannot generally sue or be sued.
  • Incorporated non-profit organizations have legal status. While it is not essential to incorporate, incorporation allows to organization to enter into contracts, buy, sell and own assets, sue, and be sued. Incorporation of a non-profit allows the organization to be set up in a similar structure to for-profit businesses.

Non-profit organizations can incorporate provincially or federally.
  • Provincial incorporation is for organizations that will operate within their local community or province. 
  • Federal incorporation is for organizations that wish to operate in more than one province under the same corporate name with the ability to move its registered office anywhere in the county. Organizations that are federally incorporated may be required to register provincially. 

In Alberta, incorporating a non-profit organization costs $75 and requires the following steps:
      1) Choosing a Name
     2) Get an Alberta NUANS Report
     3) Filling Out Forms
     4) Submitting Forms

For more information, visit Service Alberta or contact Service Alberta: Registries Information at 780-427-7013
(or dial 310-0000 then 780-427-7013 for toll free).
Forming a Society

A society is an independent legal entity that exists separate from its members. Societies are similar to non-profit organizations such that profits must be directed towards fulfilling the goals of the society. Societies are formed with five or more people who share a common recreational, cultural, scientific, or charitable interest. Similar to non-profit organizations, societies can enter into contracts, buy, sell and own assets, sue, and be sued. Unlike non-profit organizations, societies cannot be engaged in any trade or business operations. Societies cannot issue shares, declare dividends for members, or distribute property among the members during the lifetime of the society. In Alberta, societies are regulated under the Societies Act.

In Alberta, incorporating a society costs $50 and requires the following steps:
      1) Choosing a Name
     2) Get an Alberta NUANS Report
     3) Filling Out Forms
     4) Submitting Forms

For more information, visit Service Alberta or contact Service Alberta: Registries Information at 780-427-7013
(or dial 310-0000 then 780-427-7013 for toll free).
Registering a Charity
Some non-profit organizations and societies may be eligible to become registered charities, both provincially and federally.
In Alberta, charitable organizations must be registered under the Charitable Fund-raising Act if:
  • It uses a fund-raising business,
  • It intends to raise more than $25,000 in gross contributions in its financial year from solicitations to individuals in Alberta,
  • During or after the campaign, it finds it has raised more than $25,000.

If a charity is asking for contributions from its members or its immediate families, is asking for goods or services that it will use for its administration or other non-charitable purpose, or it is raising funds through raffles, pull tickets, bingos or casinos, it does not need to be registered.

For organizations raising funds through raffles, pull tickets, bingos or casinos, please contact the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission for licensing information.

The Charitable Fund-raising Act applies to any incorporated or unincorporated organization that is formed for charitable purposes (includes non-profits and societies and those registered with the Canada Revenue Agency). A charitable purpose includes any philanthropic, benevolent, educational, health, humane, recreational, religious, cultural, or artistic purpose.

In Alberta, registering a charitable organization costs $60 per year and requires the following steps:
      1) Completed Application for Charitable Organization Form
     2) Registration Fee
     3) Copies of solicitation materials and telemarketing scripts if registering for the first time.

For more information, visit Service Alberta or contact the Consumer Contact Centre at 780-427-4088 or 1-877-427-4088 toll free.

Federally, non-profit organizations can apply for charitable status with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) which allows the organization special tax privileges such as not paying income tax and the ability to issue tax receipts to donors.  Prior to making a decision to apply for charitable status, organizations should familiarize themselves with the types of activities that would prevent registration as a charity.

The CRA has developed a tool to help guide your decision: Could Registration be Right for You? 

Once registered, a charitable organization must meet certain obligations  each year. Failure to meet obligations can result in consequences such as education letters, compliance agreements, sanctions, and/or revocation of charitable status.

For more information on applying for charitable status, visit the Canada Revenue Agency.

For federally registered charities, the CRA has numerous resources on receiving gifts (e.g., donations) and issuing receipts.
Licensing Your Non-Profit Organization or Society
Regardless of your assisted transportation service’s legal structure (non-profit or for-profit), it is important to check municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal regulations to determine which business licences or permits are required, if applicable. Certain businesses may only require municipal licences and permits, whereas others may require provincial business licences (e.g., charitable organizations).

Please note that with the introduction of Transportation Network Companies (e.g., Uber) many municipalities have developed new regulations surrounding licensing requirements for vehicles for hire. These new regulations may not be reflected in the BizPal online service (see below). Please contact your local municipality for more information.

Service Alberta BizPal is an online service with information regarding online business permits and license information. This service gives entrepreneurs simplified access to information on what permits and licences are needed from all levels of government (municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal). Based on information you provide about your business, you will generate a customized list of permits and licenses (including required registrations) that you may need from the municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal governments. It is free to use and is available 24/7.
Applying for a Volunteer Screening Program Number
The Volunteer Screening Program (VSP) is designed to meet the needs of non-profit organizations across Alberta.  Developed with the input of non-profit voluntary sector stakeholders and police agencies, Alberta Culture and Tourism's new Volunteer Screening Program will assist non-profit organizations with a range of resources to help reinforce existing volunteer screening practices or establish robust new ones. The VSP provides funding to eligible nonprofit organizations to support Vulnerable Sector Checks as well as organizational development. These funds are provided with support from the Government of Alberta.
For more information, including frequently asked questions, eligibility criteria, and the application form, please visit Volunteer Alberta.
Applying for the Serving Communities Internship Program
The Serving Communities Internship Program (SCiP) is a mutually beneficial opportunity for both non-profit/voluntary sector organizations and students. Eligible non-profit organizations create flexible part-time internship positions for post-secondary students to engage in meaningful skill-based work. Following completion of the internship, students apply and receive a $1000 award from the Government of Alberta (at no cost to the organization).

Please visit SCiP for Organization FAQs and a Step by Step Guide for more information.