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Thread: Bylaws

  1. #1
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013


    I am hip deep in bylaws, 3 sets of bylaws for 3 different organizations.

    Most every organization I belong to loves to ignore their bylaws. Usually they cant even locate the bylaws if challanged to follow them.

    I started to write a lot of boring details, but really who here cares? No one!

    Suffice to say that six months ago I took the bylaws in hand of my largest organization because I am now the board secretary. I volunteered to be on the board after seeing the incredible chaos the organization had become. Fortunately, several old timers in our neighborhood also stepped forward to solve the chaos.

    So we got the bylaws in hand, meaning that we organized them and rewrote them to reflect motions that had passed to amend the bylaws years before but had never been incorporated into the text. We cleaned up the text with stylistic improvements, and mounted the new document on the website so now everybody can find bylaws whenever they need them at any time. Imagine that!

    And now, we are in one of those stressed situations where we have to read the bylaws to see how we should act because we are spending a crap load of money outside of the budget within a very short timeline and we need to know how to call a special meeting, who needs to be there, what is the quorum, etc.

    It is great because we can all read the same set of bylaws on our website and understand what we have to do!

    In working woth so many sets of bylaws, I am jonesing to simplify them so that all of the archaic and idiosyncratic bits are eliminated. I want these organizations to actually follow their bylaws and in order to do that, the documents need to be broadly written. Each President has had their little hobby horse and adds tiny details into to the documents for the detriment of all.

    we stopped our most recent President from requireing that new Presidents must have been a member for 5 years. I am talking down another President in another organization who wants to raise requirements for the President position, one she herself probably couldnt even meet.

    Just call me the Bylaws Queen.

    At the moment I am researching why, exactly, my tiny plant society needs an
    executive Committee in addition to a Board.

    Am also researching WHEN it is ok, according to Roberts Rules, to suspend the bylaws. These groups are fond of suspendng their bylaws but I suspect they are not doing it legally.

    All of my organizations are registered corporations with the state, and they are required to follow state law.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Can I send you mine?

    We're just creating our bylaws for the our lakeshore restoration association. Our deadline is November 5, because that's when the township select board meets and we want to present it to them. I was definitely happy to see the draft of the by-laws go to another volunteer and not me.

    Luckily the town above us has had a working association for a few years and we're stealing almost all of the language from them.

    Sounds like a yucky job, IL. But I guess once it's done, it's done, unless you find a need to change something down the road.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town

  3. #3
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    By a lake in MO
    I feel for you. We're knee deep in updating our 200 page handbook for the church. National, District, State, and Church things have been changed over the last 10 years and the board responsible...dropped the ball.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    All hail the Bylaws Queen! It's a rather thankless job but someone has to do it. So many organizations just cruise along -- and then get bitten by something that happens for which there is no documentation.

    When I was an officer for a local non-profit, I unearthed 40-year-old bylaws which had been treated more as an oral history than a document. It made sense to overhaul the entire thing, following best practices for non-profits which did what this one does. In the process we uncovered a few legal requirements that had not been observed in years. Unfortunately the rest of the board was fairly weak and could not use the bylaws to restrain a personality (founder and principal of the non-profit) who was abusing them. So I resigned. I didn't want to be around when they come up short...
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  5. #5
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Steve, that is the worst thing, when there is something funny with the money.

    Fortunately, my organizations have clean treasury records and very good treasurers. Of course none of us do the audit that is required by the bylaws so how would we really know? Ha ha Ha ha ha!

    And controlling the founders is pretty much an impossible task. One of our plant societies was founded 30+ years ago by a wonderful gentleman who was always trying to pass off the presidency to someone else but in reality he was always the leader. I joked with all the presidents about our true “shadow president.” But because he was a genuinely nice man, none of us ever really resented his presence in all things. Not surprisingly when he died, the organization died.

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