Organizational Leadership

What Do Bylaws Do or Accomplish?

Bylaws provide policy groups and governing bodies with a document that establishes a framework through which functions and operations are carried out. This resource can be used by program directors, Policy Council members, and governing body members to further their understanding of the importance of bylaws.

One of the more challenging things that organizations do is create, revise, or amend their bylaws. Some members find this boring, unnecessary, and a waste of time. These members don't understand the purpose of self-government, which is that individuals' consent to be governed by this law form the very basis of self-determination and freedom.

The difference between self-government, or constitutional government, and tyranny is that in self-government the people get together and agree on the laws that will govern them, whereas in tyranny one person determines the laws. This means that in self-governing organizations, the members get to decide the laws by proposing laws, amending them, discussing them, and voting on how they shall be governed.

Bylaws give a body of people a governing document that establishes a framework or structure in which the body carries out its functions and operations harmoniously to benefit the members individually and collectively.

Bylaws establish a basis from which the organization deliberates and makes decisions for the benefit of the members and the body as a whole. They establish who is to govern or represent the members in the administration of an organization's affairs; this usually appears in the form of officers, directors, and committees. Bylaws establish how the affairs are to be administered and set limits to those who are to administrate the affairs.

Bylaws determine the qualifications of these representatives and administrators, how they are selected, how long they are to serve in these positions, and, if necessary, how to remove them and fill vacancies.

They determine who can join an organization, how one can join, and the responsibilities of members after joining. Bylaws also ensure the rights of these members individually and collectively.

Finally, bylaws provide for order, equality, justice, and continuity and perpetuity of the organization.

Bylaws should be written and composed by people who understand basic parliamentary principles, law, order, equality, fairness, and justice. When bylaws are written properly, an organization's members will never have to fear any form of tyranny invading the organization and usurping power of free men and women.


Adapted from "What Do Bylaws Do or Accomplish?" McConnell, Robert. Parliamentary Internet Newsletter. Volume 11, Issue 1. 2006. English.