ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write the By-Laws for a Not-For-Profit Organization

Updated on August 20, 2011


My work with not-for-profit organizations dates back to the mid-1970s when I decided that it was time to do some volunteer work. That experience lead to my attending RyersonUniversity in Toronto and studying social work. Since then I have worked with a number of groups either serving on a Board of Directors or helping people form a not-for-profit.

I have written by-laws and participated in numerous discussions regarding how to form a not-for-profit. These discussions included whether or not it is necessary to actually formalize your project into a not-for-profit structure.

This hub starts with the premise that you have already decided that a not-for-profit is essential and are working on getting incorporated. You need a set of bylaws to do this and you need them to guide your organization’s decision making process.

I suggest that if you are planning to launch a not-for-profit and especially if you want to set up a charitable organization, that you consult a lawyer. The information here will help you better understand the process and will assist you in defining how the organization will operate.

Also check the laws governing not-for-profits where the organization will operate to know what is required.

Generally, the by-laws must include the following:

1- The official name of the organization.

2- The address where the organization’s seal is kept.

3- Purpose of the organization

4- Define your membership

5- How many meeting will be held each year

6- Where will they be held

7- How will members be notified

8- How are special meetings set?

9- What happens when members miss meeting?

10- Voting, how is the vote taken?

11- Who can vote?

12- What officers are in place, i.e. President, Past-President, Secretary, and Treasurer?

13- How are Board of Directors vacancies filled?

14- Procedure for removing a Director.

15- Committee structure.

Once you have clear and agreed upon answers to these 15 points then you have the foundation of your bylaws. While you can amend the organization’s bylaws, you do not want to do so during the first months of operation as it distracts from carrying out the work the agency was created to conduct. So take your time and get a working group together and when you have a draft copy worked out then it may be a good time to visit a lawyer.

By-laws are your cornerstone, they guide the organization through the decision-making process and are worth spending time and some money on so that you develop a document that is useful and empowering.


Submit a Comment
  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I will see what I can do.

  • profile image

    Sandra Mayers 

    8 years ago

    A group called "Better Together" was formed about two years ago by American citizens living in San Felipe, B.C. Mexico. Since inception, membership has grown each year. We have been using funds from members and San Felipe Rotary to provide food, medicine, and building materials to improve the lives of the elderly in San Felipe. We do not want to incorporate at this time but would like to be under someone else's non-profit umbrella to receive funds from organizations in Mexico and the United States. Can you refer me to a source to write our by-laws, a charter, and mission statement? Please answer to Thank you for your time. I will be happy to give you more information if it is necessary.

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    8 years ago from New Brunswick

    I cannot advise on this, as it is a legal question.

  • profile image

    unhappy member 

    8 years ago

    I am a member of a non-profit organization. Our Board of Directors are not abiding by the by-laws. What actions (if any) can I take?

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Thanks for dropping by.

  • Dame Scribe profile image

    Dame Scribe 

    9 years ago from Canada

    By-laws are so important for smooth operations and abiding by them is the next hurdle, great info :)

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Nothing I could say in this small space, thanks for dropping by.

  • Tyhill27 profile image


    9 years ago from Red Deer, Alberta

    Thanks Bob, good topic. I am currently the president of our condo board of directors. Any advise on how to persuade the board against a pushy management company?

  • Bob Ewing profile imageAUTHOR

    Bob Ewing 

    9 years ago from New Brunswick

    First you have to obtain them and then modify, both take time.

  • skgrao profile image

    S K G Rao. 

    9 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

    We can Just copy the By-Laws of a good no profit organization with changes to suit us.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)