Rural Health Networks: A Legal Primer, Teevans defines bylaws
as an organization's internal guidelines that:
- Define the rights and responsibilities of
individuals running an organization
- Set forth rules outlining how the corporation will
operate within state and federal guidelines
All states require nonprofit
organizations to have bylaws and some
states require for-profit
organizations to have them as well. State guidelines are available through the Secretary of
State's office. Though bylaws do not need to be filed with the state, they are considered legal
documents and must be approved and abided by board members. Because requirements vary from state to
state, each organization should consult their Secretary of State's office.
Regardless of each state's bylaw requirement, networks and coalitions would be wise to develop
guidance for how the network will operate. Bylaws outline the process for:
- Selecting, removing, or replacing officers
- Holding meetings, including frequency
- Roles of governing individuals
Board members can amend bylaws.
Some organizations opt to seek legal assistance when writing bylaws. Networks and coalitions that
have written their own have reported it helpful to use another organization's existing bylaws as a
template. The National Cooperative of Health Networks provides bylaws
written by members of their network as examples for other networks to consult.
Resources to Learn More
Comprehensive step-by-step guide to writing bylaws, including examples and a template.
Author(s): Hampton, C.
Organization(s): Community Tool Box