How to Change Your Organization’s Bylaws in 6 Steps

Healthy organizations evolve. And if your association is voting to amend its bylaws, particularly in regards to elections, it can often seem overwhelming.

However, there are advantages to amending bylaws and we’ve got six simple steps you can follow to make sure your organization is making healthy changes in the most efficient, effective way.

6 Steps for Amending Bylaws

1. Understand your state laws

Your state’s statutes supersede your organization’s bylaws, so be sure that your bylaws do not include practices that are prohibited by law. State laws can also include “default” rules that may be overruled by your organization’s bylaws. Confusing? It can be, so it’s helpful to consult a professional to ensure you’re in complete compliance with the law.

2. Seek legal advice

Before making a change to your nonprofit organization’s bylaws, consult a qualified attorney early in your process and check in periodically. A legal adviser will ensure your bylaws are consistent and written to the letter of the law.

3. Make sure your bylaw committee represents your organization

Is your bylaw committee an accurate cross-section of your organization’s membership? Is the diversity of the organization reflected in the board and bylaw committee? If not, you could see large scale opposition to approval of your 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 your committee understands current voting trends and technologies.

New voting technology like our DirectVoteLive® Online Voting System or our DirectVote® Electronic Voting App are both easy to navigate, and extremely accurate. Our voting solutions make amending bylaws a quick painless process, while also potentially cutting costs for your organization.

4. Regularly 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 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 additional questions about how often your bylaws should be updated, or how to do so, feel free to contact us at any time!