Saturday, February 9, 2013

Not-for-profit Corporations Act

- by Mark McAlister

The Anthroposophical Society In Canada was incorporated on the 10th of March, 1953.  Over the past 60 years, 1000s of hours (and dollars!) have been spent administering the affairs of the Society.  We are a very small organization (518 members at present), and one might ask, why bother?  Wouldn't it be simpler just to have a non-incorporated club?  We could conserve our resources and focus on what really matters - the cultivation and development of anthroposophy.

New legislation from the Government of Canada makes these questions even more pressing.  All federal  non-profit corporations are required to file for a "Certificate of Continuance" by October 2014.  This requires us to re-write our charter and by-laws, and ensure that all of our governance processes comply with the new Not-for-profit Corporations Act.  YIKES - that's alot of work!

Actually, I welcome the challenge.  Like any living organism, corporations need to grow and change, and the new legislation gives us a helpful framework. The Council and Administrator have started to work through the transition guidelines and will make a preliminary progress report at the Annual Meeting in May.  I encourage you to review the materials listed at the end of this article, and send us your comments,  suggestions,and offers to help.

I participated in a governance seminar with John Bloom last year, and learned that governance is not a necessary evil - it's the heart of our creative process.  Can we overcome the inertia of Roman law ("power over"), and start manifesting the powers of the spiritual soul ("power with")?

To conclude, here is one of my notes from the Bloom seminar:
How can we create agreements that free up individual capacities to serve our mission for social good?...  When we try to form such agreements, a ‘creative tension’ (Senge) arises.  We want to recognize the authority and spiritual identity of the other, and to work out of love and trust.  At the same time, we have the difficult task of holding each other accountable to our agreements, and ensuring that we all stay focused on our common purpose.  This calls for the development and training of new capacities.  How do we learn to act freely in the context of our agreements?

Background reading
Not-for-profit Corporations Act
Transition Guide 
CRA Guidelines 
Bloom Governance Seminar Notes

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