How to Write Nonprofit Bylaws

by Contributor
It's important to look at all angles of the bylaw before making an amendment.

It's important to look at all angles of the bylaw before making an amendment.

Every nonprofit organization needs bylaws to spell out how it is going to conduct business. Every state has its own requirements for what must included in nonprofit bylaws. Further, if the nonprofit is to be affiliated with a larger organization, that organization may have its own requirements.

Decide what cause your nonprofit will serve and establish a coherent mission statement. It's best to make this as clear as possible rather than use a lot of legal or professional jargon.

Build a preliminary set of bylaws using a sample set as a template. You can find templates online or use a set of bylaws of a similar nonprofit. You can also ask for a sample set of bylaws from the larger organization with which your nonprofit will be affiliated.

Consult an attorney to make sure your bylaws meet the legal requirements of your state. Your attorney will likely advise you to keep the bylaws as short as possible because your board of directors will be bound by them; they will not be easy to change once established.

Finalize your bylaws and have the board of directors vote on them. It will be helpful if the directors have served on other nonprofits so they will be familiar with what bylaws should say and how they will govern the operation of the nonprofit.

Publish your bylaws. They will let other organizations, funding entities and the community know that you are a legitimate organization, which will encourage them to work with your nonprofit.

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