How to Change Your Organization’s Bylaws in 6 Steps

2 minutes to read

iStock_000017306404_XXXLargeHealthy organizations evolve. And if your organization is considering changing its bylaws, particularly in regards to elections, it can often seem overwhelming.

However, there are advantages to updating election 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.

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.

Seek legal advice
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.

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 can absolutely improve convenience and cut costs.

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 updating or replacing bylaws to keep your organization from falling behind, which may require a complete overhaul instead of just fine tuning.

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.

Do not make your bylaws too difficult to amend
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 to change your organization’s bylaws, feel free to contact us  at any time – we’re here to help. If you have a bylaw update success story, please share it with us in the comments below!