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Are nonprofits required to give bylaws to members?

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Are nonprofits required to give bylaws to members?

Are officers of a nonprofit corporation required to give a written copy of the by-laws to each of the members or is it sufficient to allow members to read the rules in an open meeting?

Members of nonprofit corporations normally have a right to inspect corporate records and to make copies for their personal use. They certainly have the right to review the bylaws by which their organization is governed. I don’t know of any affirmative requirement to give a copy to each member, but I would certainly give a copy to anyone who asked and would consider making them a part of the initial membership package. If I were a member who could read them only at an open meeting, I would look first for the section on how to change the officers.
The new Form 990 tax information return for 2008 asks charities to describe whether, and if so how, they make their governing documents, including bylaws, available to the general public. Although the IRS recognizes that public disclosure is not necessarily required, the question shows its view of good governance.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

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