3 bylaw mistakes nonprofit leaders often make

On Behalf of Dunlap Fiore, LLC |

If you are starting a nonprofit venture, you can improve its odds of success by writing comprehensive and meaningful bylaws. After all, your organization’s bylaws may guide virtually all aspects of your venture.

Because launching a nonprofit requires accomplishing many tasks, it can be tempting to neglect writing good bylaws. You should not shortcut the process by trying to make another organization’s bylaws fit your organization’s needs, though. Here are three bylaw mistakes nonprofit leaders often make.

1. Not seeking input

Your nonprofit organization likely relies on community leaders, volunteers and others. When you are drafting your bylaws, it is generally a good idea to seek input from a cross-section of your organization. Those from different walks of life may have some excellent ideas for improving your bylaws.

2. Neglecting to seek legal counsel

Writing bylaws can be a complicated task. Not only must your organization’s set mesh with organizational laws, but they must also be consistent with your regulatory documents. Having an attorney review your bylaws is one of the more effective ways to avoid future problems.

3. Trying to cover too much

While your bylaws are likely to address many important matters, they simply cannot and should not address everything. Your attorney may be able to help you decide what to include and what to reserve for board-approved policies down the road.

While these mistakes are common, this list does not include every possible error you may make when creating your organization’s bylaws. Ultimately, any efforts you put into getting the process right are likely to pay dividends as your nonprofit grows.