A C o m p r e h e n s i v e M a n u a l
THE FOUNDATION OF YOUR ORGANIZATION
WHAT IS A CONSTITUTION?
The constitution of an organization contains the fundamental principles which govern its operation. It
also establishes the specific rules of guidance by which the group is to function. All groups should have
their basic structure and methods of operation in writing.
WHY HAVE A CONSTITUTION?
By definition an organization is a body of persons organized for some specific purpose, as a club, union,
or society. The process of writing a constitution will serve to clarify your purpose, delineate your basic
structure, and provide the cornerstone for building an effective group. It will also allow members and
potential members to have a better understanding of the organization's goals and functions. If you keep
in mind the value of having a written document that clearly describes the basic framework of your orga
nization, the drafting of the constitution will be a much easier and more rewarding experience. The
process of preparing and adopting a new constitution should be deliberate, not haphazard; democratic,
not authoritarian; and participatory, not closed.
WHAT SHOULD BE COVERED BY A CONSTITUTION?
The following items are standard information to be included in a constitution. The objective is to draft
a document that covers these topics in a clear and concise manner.
*The name of the organization
*Purpose, aims, and functions of the organization
*Membership requirements and limitations
*Officers (titles, terms of office, how and when elected)
*Meetings (frequency, special meetings and who calls them)
*Quorum (number of members required to transact business)
*Referendum and Recall (procedures and handling)
*Amendments (means of proposal, notice required, voting requirements)
*Ratification, (requirements for adopting the constitution)
ONCE A CONSTITUTION IS ADOPTED WHAT IS DONE WITH IT?
Remember the reasons for having a constitution. It articulates the purpose of the organization and spells
out the procedures for its orderly functioning. Constitutions usually require a 2/3 majority vote of the
membership for adoption. Once the constitution is developed, review it often. The needs of the group
will change over time and it is important that the constitution is kept up to date to reflect the current stage
(Make sure every new member of the organization has a copy of the constitution and other relevant
documents. This will help unify your members by informing them about the opportunities that exist
for participation and the procedures they would follow to be an active contributing member. A thor
ough study of the constitution should be a part of officer training and transition.)
A p p e n d i x A : S a m p l e C o n s t i t u t i o n
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