A constitution simply outlines what your association/foundation/organisation will do and how it will go about doing it.
A constitution is important because:
It is important to develop constitution that reflects the way in which you actually want to do things. Do not spend a lot of time writing about things you do not intend to do, simply because you think they are what people expect.
Keep the information in your constitution clear and simple.
Your aims, sometimes called objectives, are a declaration of your long-term goals: what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. This is a very important part of your constitution and needs to be very clear.
Having a discussion around your aims will help you to make sure that everyone involved in the group agrees on the purpose of the group and what it will be doing.
Your aims should include information about:
Your constitution should describe the qualities and characteristics you want in members and how someone can be eligible to be a member of your group.
Members could be:
Will people who pay membership fees become members; will people become members automatically when they move into the area, start volunteering or using the services that the group provides? Will membership be approved by a meeting of the committee or the group.
Even if you plan to have a very open membership it is a good idea to have a membership list. It is then clear who you mail about meetings, who can come, and who can vote.
The constitution should also describe how someone stops being a member. Will someone stop being a member:
Your constitution should detail the structure of the board of directors and the positions of the officers who will run the organisation. Specify how the officers are chosen, what powers they can exercise, how long they hold their positions, and how they can be removed and replaced. Some of the positions that board members could have could include:
Describe how to hold meetings of the members and the board. The minimum number of meetings required for the officers and the members must be stated.
Usually, an annual general meeting for of the board and all members must be held at least once a year. Other information that must be detailed includes who can call meetings, who will participate in the meetings and how participants will be notified.
Meeting quorums (i.e. the minimum number of people that must be present in a meeting so that decisions can be made) and meeting procedures, such as rules of order, must be laid out.
The constitution must also outline
Spell out how your foundation/organisation/association will raise and spend money. Will the money be kept in a bank account? Write down which officer is responsible for the foundation/organisation/association’s banking, who has the authority to release funds for activities or project, who maintains the financial records, and who prepares the annual report.
Detail the procedures to follow if the foundation/organisation/association wants to amend its constitution. Decide:
Provide a procedure to use for the dissolution of the foundation/organisation/association.
This may become necessary if members want to stop operating the foundation/organisation/association because either it has failed in its purpose or it has achieved its goals.
In addition to detailing the required votes and conditions, specify how the organization will distribute its assets. The usual procedure is for the foundation/organisation/association to turn over the assets to another foundation/organisation/association.