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Bylaws Function as “Constitution” of Nonprofit Corporations
Bylaws of a nonprofit Corporation should not simply be taken “off the shelf” and adopted by the organization. The Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws essentially form the “Constitution” of the organization and establish the rules for governance. Like all Constitutions, they should be considered carefully.
In most states, the state nonprofit corporation law provides minimum standards and default procedures if the Articles and Bylaws are silent on many issues. But the Bylaws can be used to spell out specific provisions and are particularly important in establishing the rules about who controls the organization.
Unlike a business corporation, in which, in very simplistic terms, the one who buys the most stock controls the organization, the Bylaws of a nonprofit corporation spell out the essential relationships of the participants. They are the power document of the organization. This pdf includes sample bylaws.
Sole Member Bylaws Can Protect Founder of Nonprofit
We have frequently referred to a “sole member” corporation to protect a founder of a nonprofit corporation when the founder wants assurance that he or she can develop the organization as a career to help make the world better in some way.
Not everyone believes that they are appropriate or in the public interest. But we have seen too many founders, who work for years essentially as volunteers, to create an organization and then get fired when their “best friends” on the Board decide to go in a different direction. The community usually loses an important effort in such situations, especially when the best friends could have gone off and established their own organization to do what they want to do. This pdf includes a discussion of the topic and an “annotated” version of sample bylaws.
This 24 page pdf includes sample bylaws.
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