Is there any requirement for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to post its bylaws on a website for members to review and see?
Although the Form 990 now includes a question asking whether, and if so how, the governing instruments are made available to the general public, the Form notes that such disclosure is not required by the federal tax law. (See Ready Reference Page: "New Core Form 990 Presents New Look for Nonprofit Finances) This would be a state law question depending on the law of the state involved but I am not aware of any general requirement that bylaws be posted on a website.
If your “members” are true voting members who have rights analogous to shareholders, they are entitled to have a copy of the bylaws, but the bylaws do not normally have to be made available to the broader public. Many membership organizations have traditionally included a copy of the bylaws in their published membership directory, but a lot of such organizations have probably given up paper publishing and now publish the directory on a website. Many other organizations post their bylaws for anyone to see. For greater transparency to your members, it might be a good idea to put the bylaws on the website, especially if there is a password protected area for members only, but it is unlikely to be required by law.
Monday, February 6, 2012