As a nonprofit organization, your swim club’s bylaws are essential documents that outline how your club should run. They are a set of rules and regulations that govern the internal operations of your organization, including how it is structured, how major decisions are made, and how board members are elected. However, over time, your club may evolve and change, growing, expanding, adding programs, increasing staff, and shifting the purpose of the board itself. Unfortunately, many clubs continue to operate according to their current needs without changing their bylaws. This can lead to the organization working outside of its bylaws, putting it at great risk.
To avoid this, it is crucial that you review and update your bylaws at least every couple of years. This will ensure that you are operating in a way that is relevant and effective. Here are some reasons why your swim club should consider updating its bylaws regularly:
Ensure legal compliance: Updating your bylaws can help your club stay compliant with the latest legal requirements. Your board’s responsibility is to ensure that your club operates within local, state, and federal laws. Bylaws that are out of date may not reflect changes in governance laws, such as conflict of interest policies or whistleblower protections. Updating your bylaws can help ensure that your club is in good charitable standing and meets legal requirements.
For example, suppose you operate a swim club in a state that recently changed its nonprofit governance laws. In that case, your bylaws may be outdated and no longer compliant with the new regulations. By updating your bylaws, you can ensure that your club meets the new requirements and avoids legal issues.
Reflect changes in the club: Updating your bylaws can help you reflect the changes that your club has or will make. For example, if your club has grown in programs, you may want to ensure that those leads are present at board meetings to ensure their interests are heard, supported, and protected. Waiting until your club has grown significantly to change your bylaws can put every decision you have made in jeopardy based on a technicality.
Improve governance and decision-making: Updating your bylaws can help improve your club’s governance and decision-making. By making changes, you can improve board structure, voting rights and procedures, financial management, and policies to protect the organization. For example, having a really old set of bylaws can result in completely new boards every election cycle, which is not in the best interest of the club. Instead, you should have certain roles up for election in odd years and others in even years to have continuity on the board.
To update your bylaws, the first step is to review them. Every board member should review and make comments and suggestions. It’s important to collaborate on this process and not do it in isolation. Everyone involved will spot things from their unique perspective, ensuring that you have a comprehensive and relevant set of bylaws that will keep your club running smoothly.
It’s also important to communicate changes to stakeholders. Inform club members, staff, and volunteers about changes to the bylaws and how they may affect the club’s operations. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the club can continue to operate effectively.
In conclusion, updating your bylaws regularly is crucial for your swim club’s success. It will ensure that you are staying compliant with the latest legal requirements, reflecting the changes your club has made or will make, and improving your governance and decision-making. Don’t wait until it’s too late to update your bylaws. Act now to protect your club and ensure its continued success.