Community Platform

The Nonprofit FAQ: Charter Documents

Select an FAQ   (20):

Bad bylaws lead to conflict. What next?
A consultant outlines a strategy for a member to press for resolution of a sharp conflict among board members.
Board Basics
Some first principles about the board of directors and pointers to other information on the subject.
Can a nonprofit be a business?
Many nonprofits undertake 'business' activities, and most are 'business-like' in their work. Nonprofits can't pay out profits as dividends to stockholders or as income to 'owners.'
Can Members Review the Books & Financial Records?
An organization's by-laws should state the rights of its membership.
Can nonprofits use proxies when voting?
It's a complicated question. Some guidance may be found in state nonprofit corporation law.
Can we re-incorporate in another state?
Although the organization may feel it is just a formality when the state of incorporation is changed, in fact one organization has gone out of existence and a new one has been formed. New standing with the IRS is necessary.
Do all nonprofits have members?
No. And the term 'member' is used in many ways. In some organizations, members have specific rights and powers.
Do I need a lawyer to form a nonprofit? How much should it cost?
Some people can do it on their own. Others find a lawyer very useful. There are legal referral services which sometimes can help locate low-cost or even free assistance.
Does an NPO really need a Treasurer?
In a volunteer-based organization, the treasurer may actually keep the books. In larger organizations, the responsibilities of the role change.
How do we change our mission statement?
You need a careful and inclusive process.
Should boards of directors have term limits?
Bringing on members is good. Encouraging nonperformers to leave is good too. But term limits may be too blunt an instrument.
We want to change the mission and work we do. How difficult is it to make such a change?
You may need to notify your state corporations office, the IRS, and officials in states where you do fundraising. More details in this item.
What actual steps do I take? Which filings come first?
The practical details (in the USA) of incorporating a nonprofit and filing for tax-exempt status and a nonprofit mailing permit.
What are Articles of Incorporation? Bylaws?
Articles of Incorporation typically specify the purpose of the organization, its name, place of business, key officers and various limitations of operations. Bylaws are the board's specifications of the overall structure and operations of the organization
What are job descriptions for nonprofit board members?
Suggestions for duties and responsibilities for board members and officers.
What are the key duties of the board?
The National Center for Nonprofit Board's 'Ten Basic Responsibilities' and some references to other materials
What is included in the board manual?
Each board member gets a manual about how the board operates, including its structure, policies, the nonprofit's charter documents, etc.
What should our mission statement say?
Purpose. Business. Values. Beneficiaries.
Where to start when creating a nonprofit
Resources and advice for use at the very beginning.
Will a trademark protect my organization's name on the net?
Having a registered trademark is a help, but registering your name for internet use is also a good idea