Member rights

This page explains what rights members have. Members are in charge of nonprofits, so it important they know their rights. For more on how nonprofits can structure their membership, see Membership structures.

How do we know who is legally a member?
Not everyone involved with a nonprofit is a “member” legally speaking. This court decision helps us understand that we should turn to our bylaws to figure out who is a member.

What are my rights as a member?
The Governance Centre of Excellence briefly describes the rights of nonprofit members. Download Form 2.01 in the Guide to Good Governance Templates.

Note: If you click on the Form 2.01, you will be asked to log-in. If you exit that pop-up screen, then you will be taken to the resource.

Members have the right to:

  • elect and remove directors
  • attend and ask for meetings of members
  • get financial statements
  • appoint and remove auditors
  • approve important changes
  • propose resolutions

What if we have no members?
If you are incorporated under Ontario’s Corporations Act (OCA), you are required to have members.

Your bylaws should say how people or organizations can become members of your nonprofit and also how they can stop being members.  (s. 129(1)). If your nonprofit has no valid members, it can ask the court to appoint members. If you think you have no members, you may need to talk to a lawyer.

Reviewed: December 2017