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Starting an Organization

Governing documents establish the organization and are legally required to create an organization. Once developed, they must be kept up to date and, if the organization is incorporated, filed appropriately with a provincial or federal regulatory body (Manitoba Companies Office or Corporations Canada).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Structuring the Organization 


Agriculture and rural non-profit organizations are formed when the industry identifies a need or when a group forms around a common goal. A well-structured organization can achieve goals more efficiently and will be more likely to continue after founding members move on. Non-profit organizations in Manitoba are not required to incorporate but may chose to for reasons outlined in the links below. A non-profit organization can form a corporation 'without share capital' which is governed by a board of directors (appointed or elected according to their bylaws). Cooperatives (Co-ops) are legally incorporated organizations owned by their members who use their services or purchase their products. The cooperatives members elect the board of directors. (from Manitoba Cooperatives Association Inc.).
 
For pros and cons of incorporation and steps on how to incorporate a non-profit see the websites listed here.
 
Provincial Incorporation


Federal Incorporation


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Bylaws


Bylaws are the rules or laws that an organization agrees to follow. Some organizations may incorrectly refer to their bylaws as a constitution. Letters of patent (for federally incorporated organizations) and stamped articles of incorporation (Manitoba incorporated organizations) are kept with the bylaws and these documents together can be referred to as constitutional or governing documents.
It is important for an organization to keep its bylaws up to date and review them annually. A constitution document listing any rules, purposes or objectives of the organization is not required and in some cases can be confusing if it contains contradictory information to the bylaws. Put all the organization's rules in one document called bylaws.
 
Bylaws typically include (but are not limited to) the following sections or articles:
      • Purpose and objectives - the organization's mission statement if available
      • Name - identifies the legal name of the organization and any synonyms for the organization
      • Membership - eligibility and requirements of membership
      • Meetings - conduct, quorum, elections, voting procedure
      • Governing structure - defines the board of directors, executive positions, committees and their duties and powers, appointment, removal and remuneration
      • Financial - audit information, financial records, borrowing powers and other financial requirements
      • Amendments - how amendments to the bylaws will be handled
      • Dissolution - details for dissolution of the organization

The sections included in the bylaws is decided by the organization. It is important to ensure that the bylaws follow the federal and provincial legislation applicable to the organization's activities (examples Canada Labour Code, Privacy Act, The Corporations Act). Bylaws should also support governing legislation (example The Agricultural Societies Act) and common law (decisions ruled in courts of law that become legal requirements). 

An organization's financial bylaws might define:
      • how many signing officers are needed for transactions
      • who has the authority to be a signing officer
      • who has the power to invest organization money
      • who has the power to spend organization money
      • who conducts the audit

Membership bylaws might define:
      • who can be a member
      • length of term
      • how vacancies will be handled
      • the process to terminate a member

Here some additional related links:

Policies and Procedures


A policies and procedures manual is valuable to any organization.  It provides information, direction and creates consistency within the organization.
 
Policies define what an organization does and form the rules that guide the organizations actions. When discussion about an issue is significant to the organization, or repetitive, creating and following a policy simplifies the situation and allows an organization to accomplish its mandate. Policies explain who, what, why and when for the situation pertaining to the policy.

Possible policies include: 
      • member recruitment policy
      • privacy policy
      • agendas and meeting procedures policy
      • capital expenditures policy


Procedures outline how an organization carries out the policy by listing the steps that need to be followed.

Procedures clarify:

      • how the organization does something
      • what order the stpes should be completed
      • who is responsible for each step (if multiple people are involved)


Creating a useful policy and procedure manual takes time and energy but it creates consistency, continuity and time saving for the future. There are many resources to help you create your manual efficiently.

Discover the benefits policies and procedures (186KB PDF) can bring to your organization that make it worth the effort to create a manual. 

The Developing Policies and Procedures for Volunteer Organizations fact sheet  (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) contains detailed information on developing policies and procedures, including templates.

Sample policy and procedure:
 
SUBJECT:  Financial Information Confidentiality Agreement

Policy:
All board members and employees must keep the organization’s financial information confidential, whether it is gained during their term or anytime after. The executive director will make sure board members and employees sign and date a confidentiality agreement before their first board meeting or first day of work.  
 
Procedure:
1. Get a copy of the confidentiality agreement from the executive director
2. Sign and date the confidentiality agreement
3. Return one copy to the executive director
4. Keep a copy for personnel file

Using samples from other organizations can be a time-saver.  Ensure that they accurately reflect your organization and the work it does.

All policies and procedures need to adhere to relevant legislation at the municipal, provincial and federal level for programs, labour, and health and safety. If you have employees, all hiring procedures and termination policies must comply with the human rights code and employment/labour legislation of the jurisdiction in which the organization operates.

The Human Rights Commission has sample policies for organizations and employers re: harassment and employment equity.  A quick guide to employment standards will help to ensure your policies are in line with the law in Manitoba. As well, the HR Council for the Non-Profit Sector has provided some sample HR policies for your use.

A policy  template (13 KB DOC) is a starting point.  Add new sections or take out information that is not relevant to your organization.

The Manitoba Agriculture organizational development team of specialists are also available to assist your organization in developing policies and procedures. Contact us today.

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