How to Develop a Charter & Bylaws for a New Organization

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When you form a nonprofit organization as a corporation, two documents the state requires is a charter and the bylaws. A charter explains the purpose for the nonprofit’s existence and is also known as the articles of incorporation. The bylaws are the rules and regulations that the organization must abide by. Generally, these documents must accompany the registration of the business when the application goes to the secretary of the state.


Identify the purpose of the organization. Write down the reason you are forming the organization or how the organization serves the group or community.

Read More: How to Develop a Charter & Bylaws for a New Organization

Identify the board of directors of the organization. State the full names for each of the board of directors of the corporation. Include the full names of the board members, and the title of the board position they fill on the board.

Write down the business location. The charter, or articles of incorporation, also included the business address for the organization, the primary contact person and the contact phone number for the primary contact.


Define the makeup of the board of directors. Describe each position that must be filled on the board of directors and the role of each position. For example, you may state that the board must have a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and a board-staff liaison.

Describe the election process for board members. Write how board members are elected to the board, the term each board member may serve and what obligations board members have to the organization. Also, describe the process of removing a board member for not complying with their obligations.

Write the requirements for membership admittance to the organization. Write and describe what criteria individuals or groups must meet to become members of the organization.


  • Although there is not a template or set format for writing the charter or bylaws of the organization, the bylaws are typically written in an outline format. The primary sections of the bylaws are referred to as “articles” and the subsections that fall under the articles are referred to as “sections.” This format makes the bylaws easier to scan and read.

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