- to help write, revise, reevaluate or
rewrite the bylaws of your nonprofit organization?
- Did a couple of people (or at least one other person) say they’d help
…but none of you really know what to do?
- Are you trying to write the bylaws of a really new nonprofit organization?
It can be scary when you take on a job like this and you really don’t quite know what you’re doing.
You might think you have to write like a lawyer (and you aren’t one).
You probably think that the bylaws are:
- too complicated
- too long
- or just too legal
You might think the only way to tackle the problem is to read (and try to understand) the old ones… maybe even read them line by line. It seems like pretty much the most boring job anyone could ever tackle.
And, frankly, if you do read them line by line, you’ll be confused and probably bored out of your mind!
And if you have a team, it will be hard to keep them motivated to complete the task.
But here’s the thing:
Bylaws—of any group—are just like the rules in a game. Hey! If you can’t understand the rules on the Monopoly® box, you surely can’t play the game. Bylaws are just like that. Bylaws tell you:
- who is in charge of what
- what the members get and
- what the people in charge have to do to keep the organization running smoothly.
The more people who understand what’s in the bylaws, the smoother your organization will run.
And the most important thing in getting people to understand them is that they be written in a language that PEOPLE can understand!
I know bylaws are really complicated.
How can Fix My Bylaws help me?
Fix My Bylaws is a list of plain English questions that will help you write or rewrite your bylaws painlessly, but more importantly, in a way that will get you a document your organization can use to efficiently guide the future.
Fix My Bylaws is not a template filled with legalize. But it will help your committee draw up a document that will support your organization in its growth.
And when you buy it, you download it instantly, by the power and magic of the internet.
OK Great. I know there are benefits to having bylaws.
But why should I use the Fix My Bylaws work book?
Here’s how it can help:
- Fix My Bylaws covers all the points you need to consider to build bylaws for your nonprofit organization
- Fix My Bylaws helps you manage the process so you can tell how much of the process is done and how much is still left
- Fix My Bylaws makes the process the most efficient. It’s more straight forward than mucking around in a template trying to figure out if everything you need is covered.
- And most important of all, Fix My Bylaws will make you look smart!
Why should I believe you?
A couple of years ago, I stumbled into the position you’re probably in now. The bylaws of my organization’s local chapter needed to be revised to include specific regulations imposed by the national board. I stumbled through that process. I made some mistakes. But I learned a lot. And I found myself in the interesting position of being the person with the most knowledge about how the organization was supposed to run.
Within a year, I helped two other organizations evaluate their bylaws and I helped with the construction of bylaws for two brand new national organizations.
That’s when I developed and began testing Fix My Bylaws: A simple plain-English guide to write or revise the bylaws of your nonprofit organization.
Since then I’ve worked with a dozen other organizations to write, revise or understand the bylaws of their nonprofit organization.
Isn’t my lawyer just going to make these up anyway?
Depending on your organization you may have
a lawyer draft the bylaws or review them.
But there are no right answers for all the questions.
- Term limits for the board of directors might be a good idea. Then the board won’t stagnate with the same people for ever.
- On the other hand, term limits could be a bad idea because you’ll be forced to rotate off some really good people.
Both are legitimate consideration. Neither one is always correct. Why should your lawyer make that decision?
Fix My Bylaws will guide you through the process of thinking about all the questions and making the decisions that you and your committee must make for yourselves.
I can find lots of templates for bylaws on line… for free!
Why should I spend money for this workbook?
You could do that. But think about this:
How many times have you signed up for something on line and then gotten the fine print screen? You know the one that shows about 4 lines of text and has scroll bars so you can read it all?
Then there’s that little box that says click this and say “I agree.” I’m guessing most people click it without reading it. And they surely don’t understand it. They just want to get on to the good part.
And if there were a test on that information, you would FAIL.
Fill-in-the-blank bylaws are like that.
You wind up with a document, but you can’t use it because you don’t really know—or understand—what’s in it. When you really need it … when you’re freaked out with a problem in your organization, well, that’s probably not the best time to figure it out. And by then, what ever the problem is there is probably a person who is doing something you don’t like. So what ever changes you make will look like you’re doing it BECAUSE of that person.
Look, the bylaws of a home owners association might have some similarities to those of, say, a summer community base ball program. But it doesn’t seem hard to imagine that there might be some significant differences!
What if the template you chose was more like the former. But your organization is more like the latter? You’ll miss things. Or you’ll be lulled into thinking that who ever wrote that template has the magic answers for ALL nonprofit organizations. It just ain’t so.
Fix My Bylaws is an easy to use workbook. It’s designed with lots of space to answer questions to make the bylaws perfect for your nonprofit organization.
You can also use that space to write questions that you want to ask a lawyer or accountant who knows about these things.
SHHH. Don’t do this unless you really have to.
If you have to start this process by yourself, Fix My Bylaws gives you the framework to figure out what decisions you need others’ input for.
Want to know biggest secret for success?
Start the process in your own language … not with a template or form. The questions in Fix My Bylaws are grouped so that you and your committee will think about and talk about the ideas that naturally go together—which is not necessarily the way the final document is written.
By reducing all that complicated language and arrangement to mostly short answer questions Fix My Bylaws breaks the big job down into really small bits.
Out of the 129 plain English questions:
- 24 have yes or no answers,
- 35 have really short answers and
- 28 questions are a bonus. They’ll help you work out the exact process for doing something, but the specifics don’t really belong in the bylaws at all.
You could just skip those. But I don’t recommend it!
So really… that’s just 101 questions to write better bylaws.
AND there is no reason to answer the questions in order.
- Pick the easy ones first.
- Pick the yes/no ones first.
- Cross out the ones that do not apply to your organization.
Get through the list, then use your answers to fill in the blanks and write a few sentences to explain what you decided. There is a template that links the question numbers to the right section in the final document.
Don’t put off this task because you are afraid of the unknown.
Revising the bylaws is not quick work. But it doesn’t have to be boring. Work with people who have a commitment to the organization. Plan some time to do the work. You can be successful.
Bylaws never fix themselves. In fact, in my experience, the longer you wait to attack the process, your own brain will make the project more and more complicated.
Buy Fix My Bylaws now. Just $47.
Here’s what you get:
- As many copies as you need for your team. It helps if everybody has a copy. Just print ’em out.
- 147 page PDF including the Table of Contents and a great index.
- 129 questions and instructions on how to use the answers and information about WHY you need them.
- All you have to do is ask, and I’ll send you the sample bylaws in a MSWord document so you don’t have to retype it all.
- You’ll save time because you don’t have to try to figure it all out from scratch or a standard template that may or may not fit your organization.
And yes, I am trying to push you!
Because if you don’t get started now … the longer you put it off … the more times someone will ask you, “How you doin’ with that bylaws thing?” … the more you’ll feel guilty, the bigger the job will seem … and in the end, you just won’t feel smart about it.
Disclaimer: This book is not intended in any way to be legal advice. The ideas and questions presented are only meant to spark the thinking of the nonprofit board. I have attempted to provide sound and useful information in this book, but I cannot promise beneficial result to anyone who uses that information. Because this book cannot respond to individual needs and circumstances of every or any particular organization, you should consult a licensed attorney or accountant whose practice includes nonprofit law and bylaws experience.