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Making Nonprofit Bylaws
If you've just incorporated your nonprofit, generally your next step is to define the structure of your organization. Nonprofit Bylaws constitute a legal document that outlines how your organization will be governed. They direct many of your nonprofit's activities, such as frequency of meetings, membership requirements, voting procedures, amendment procedures, and more.
Nonprofit bylaws are often required by state law. You can contact your state's Secretary of State for more information regarding your state's particular requirements. This information is usually found on the Secretary of State's website or in another readily accessible location. While Bylaws are not public documents, most nonprofits do make them readily available for transparency reasons.
While the federal government may not require you to write bylaws, your state might. Regardless of whether they are required or not, it is a good idea to write them. Nonprofit Bylaws define your business operations. Nonprofits are usually governed by more than one person, so having set rules and structure can help the organization run more smoothly.
Information needed to write Nonprofit Bylaws:
You will need to form your nonprofit business entity, write your mission statement, create a business plan and assemble your board.
Erring on the side of simplicity usually is the best way to start. You'll want to consider the longevity of each bylaw, how clear the language is, and how difficult bylaws might be to alter later.
If you are seeking a copy of the bylaws of a particular nonprofit organization, you can request a copy directly from the organization. If that is not an option, you can file a form with the IRS for a copy from them.