According to Foundation Group, "a nonprofit's bylaws are considered a legal document that dictates how the organization must be governed." Every nonprofit organization needs to have, and follow, a set of bylaws that define the group's purpose, leadership structure and methods for handling key processes.
Editable Bylaws for a Nonprofit Organization
If you're involved in developing or updating bylaws for a nonprofit organization, consider using the customizable sample bylaws document provided here as a starting point for building your document. Click the image below and the sample document will open in a separate tab or window. If you need assistance with the document, see this guide to printables.
Once the document is open, you can save it to your computer (or other storage media) using 'Save As' from the 'File' menu or the diskette icon on the toolbar. Click anywhere in the document to begin editing so you can customize the text to meet the needs of your particular organization. You can print the bylaws via the 'File' menu or printer icon on the menu bar, as well as save it for future reference and edits.
Tips for Establishing Bylaws
The articles and sections in the sample bylaws provided here are designed for a membership-based nonprofit organization. You can add and remove sections as appropriate for your group, though you should stick with the organizational style outlined in the document, making sure to have numbered articles with correlating sections for each article.
Keep in mind that the group will be held responsible for following the procedures specified in its bylaws. For this reason, BlueAvocado.org recommends avoiding being overly specific with details in your bylaws. For example, if you state that the board of directors will meet the third Wednesday of each month, you lose the ability to move meetings to accommodate members' schedules. It would be better to specify that the group will meet monthly or periodically, to allow for some leeway.
It's best to have multiple members of the group's leadership involved in establishing initial bylaws. For bylaw updates, the group needs to follow any procedures specified in previous versions.
It's also important to be sure your bylaws meet any specific requirements that apply in your state for your group's particular legal structure. Therefore, it is advisable to consult legal counsel when establishing or making significant changes to bylaws.