Non-profit organizations must have by-laws: they lay the groundwork for how your organization will function over time.
The infographic below only applies to incorporated non-profits created under Quebec law.
For more on incorporation, see our quiz Starting a Non-profit: What Type of Organization Is Best for You?
For information on non-profits created under federal law, see our article Non-profits: Incorporate With the Quebec Government or the Federal Government?
Your organization’s rule book
By-laws are rules on how the organization is run and who does what.
Here are examples of what they cover:
- the number of directors and how long they stay in office
- when the annual meeting of the organization is held
- the duties of “officers” of the organization (president, secretary, treasurer, etc.)
- categories of members of the organization
- how various parts of the organization interact: the board of directors and members, for example
An essential roadmap
Without by-laws, you could face situations about running your organization without knowing how to go about things. For example, what if your organization had to sign a contract? Without by-laws, you wouldn’t know who had the authority to sign it.
A shared responsibility
By-laws are made by the organization’s first directors, but must usually be confirmed by the members.
A kind of contract
Board members must make sure by-laws are followed. Members must also respect them.
Different than “resolutions”
A resolution is a way various parts of an organization can make decisions. This includes decisions by the board of director and the members.
Usually, resolutions are for deciding one thing at a time.
By-laws are different: they are rules that apply in a permanent way.
For example, by-laws might say who can sign contracts for the organization. A resolution might say the organization can enter into a particular contract.
A living tree
The board of directors can change the by-laws, but changes must later be confirmed by the organization’s members.
It can be a good idea to review your by-laws from time to time.
To learn more on changing by-laws, see our article Quebec Non-profit Organizations: What Goes in By-Laws.
A ticket to funding?
Not really! But many funders will ask you to submit a copy of your by-laws.