6 Tips on How to Change and Amend Your Organization’s Bylaws

Healthy organizations evolve. And if your association or nonprofit is voting to amend its bylaws, particularly in regard to elections, that change can often seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be! There are six simple steps you can follow when amending bylaws to make sure your organization is making positive changes in the most efficient, and effective way.

6 Tips for Amending Bylaws

1. Learn how state laws affect your bylaws

Your state’s statutes supersede your organization’s bylaws. It may seem obvious, but it never hurts to double check that the bylaws you’re changing do not include practices that are prohibited by law. Most importantly, state laws can also include “default” rules that may be overruled by your organization’s bylaws. Confusing? We understand it can be, so it’s helpful to consult a professional to ensure you’re in complete compliance with the law. 

Before making major changes to your nonprofit organization’s bylaws, consider consulting a qualified attorney early in your process and check in periodically throughout the amending and election period. A legal adviser will ensure your organization’s new bylaws are consistent, and written to the letter of the law.

2. Ensure your bylaw committee represents your organization

Is your bylaw committee an accurate cross-section of your organization or nonprofit’s membership? Is the diversity of the organization reflected in the board and bylaw committee? If not, you could see large-scale opposition to the approval of your bylaw proposals. Ensuring a diverse representation of membership helps prevent an “us vs. them” mentality between members and the board. When it comes to elections, remember to include a range of ages and generations as well, so that your committee understands current voting trends and technologies.

3. Use the right tools

As difficult as amending bylaws and initiating their elections can be, the right technology software can make a world of difference. New voting technology like our DirectVoteLive® Online Voting System or our DirectVote® Electronic Voting Software are both easy to navigate, and extremely accurate. Just as a carpenter needs to use the correct tools to get the job done, your organization needs to use the right tools for its elections and bylaws changes to ensure success. Our voting technology solutions make amending bylaws a quick and painless process, while also potentially cutting costs for your organization.

4. Regularly amend and update your bylaws

Antiquated, unnecessary bylaws can create confusion, high costs, and low voter response rates in member elections (caused by the lack of modern and easy voting options). Make it a point to regularly look into amending or replacing bylaws to keep your organization from falling behind, which may require a complete overhaul instead of just fine-tuning.

5. Pay attention to the approval process

For organizations with voting members, amendments to the bylaws will almost always require member approval. Be sure to follow any established timelines to submit proposed amendments – failure to do so can cause unnecessary and frustrating delays.

6. Do not make amending your bylaws too difficult

Set your organization or nonprofit up for success. Make the process easy to understand so your organization will actually receive amendment proposals, and focus on making the process reasonable so you will be able to adapt in the future.

Your organization’s bylaws help govern and run your member organization. And, just as your organization can change, so should the bylaws. Remain up-to-date and reflective of the current state of the organization.

If you have questions about how to change your organization’s bylaws or how often to amend bylaws, contact us—we’re more than happy to help!

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