Just seeing the word may fill you with a sense of dread. Or cause your eyes to cross and several yawns to follow. After all, what could be more boring than reading organizational bylaws? They seem so tedious and unnecessary, right?
Every organization operates under a massive burden of laws and regulations. These legal boundaries come from our federal government, our state legislature, and even our city’s municipal law. Public laws and regulations are the same for everyone, and usually are well known.
But what about an organization’s bylaws? These rules are crafted by the leadership of the organization; they are the only form of regulation that is internal rather than external.
Part of the mutual responsibility between staff and board is to assure that the organization is following its own laws. That’s impossible to do if your board members are not familiar with them! The only way we can fulfill the requirements of our role is by knowing those bylaws.
Whenever I’m asked to serve on a board or brought in to advise an organization’s board I ask to review several key documents. However, if I was only allowed to read one of those documents, I would choose the bylaws. They can help paint a picture of the organization’s goals and areas of focus.
Knowledge is power. As a board, it’s important to know the bylaws and policies so that you are as effective as possible.
Do you know and follow your bylaws?