Ask the Parliamentarian: About Bylaws

By Pat Reymann, Professional Registered Parliamentarian

Q.  Bylaws are scary!  Can you break them down for me?

A.  As you know, bylaws are very important because they define the basic structure of your organization.  When they are followed, they assure consistency and fairness. Below is a suggested outline for the articles and the questions that should be addressed in each section of that particular article.

ARTICLE I.  Name  – What is the official name of your organization?  What is the acronym that you prefer to use to describe it?

ARTICLE II. Object – What are the purposes or mission statement?

ARTICLE III. Membership – What are the qualifications for membership?  What categories of membership are there? How are the dues determined (but don’t specify the amount)?

ARTICLE IV. Officers – What officers do you have?  What are their qualifications? How are they nominated and elected?  What are their duties? How long are their terms?

ARTICLE V. Meetings – What meetings do you have and when are they?  What is the quorum (the minimum number of members who must be in attendance)? How are special meetings called?

ARTICLE VI. Board of Directors (optional)– Who makes up the Board (if you have one)?  What are their responsibilities? What is the quorum for a Board meeting? When are the meetings and how are special meetings called?

ARTICLE VII. Committees – What are the names and duties of the Standing Committees?  How are members selected? How are Special Committees formed? (Note: the Nominating Committee should appear in ARTICLE IV. Officers, not here.)

ARTICLE VIII. Parliamentary Authority – Something like… “The latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall be the parliamentary authority in all instances that do not conflict with these bylaws or other rules of order that the organization may adopt.”

ARTICLE IX.  Amendment of Bylaws – What is the procedure for amending these bylaws (previous notice and a ? vote are recommended)?

Q.  How often should the bylaws be reviewed?

A.  Every 2 years is ideal.  If there isn’t a Bylaws Committee already, a special  committee can be formed to review them and make recommendations for amendments to the Board and assembly. Be sure to follow the amendment procedure specified in your own ARTICLE IX Amendment of Bylaws.

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