Board, Bylaws and Budget

A homeschool leader is asking some excellent questions about writing bylaws, establishing a board and collecting money.

Dear Carol,
I am co-directing an established homeschool group and we are in the process of writing by-laws. My question is, is it okay to not allow members to have a vote pertaining to the decisions of the homeschool board? Can the by-laws be set up to allow suggestions and recommendations from the members at the approval of the board? Our concern is to protect the vision of the homeschool group. Also, is it legal to initially appoint a board without a vote and then fill vacancies at the discretion of the established board? When it comes to handling dues from the members are there guidelines that must be followed such as becoming a formal non-profit? Can we handle dues without needing to apply for non-profit status or 501c3?
Your website has been a tremendous help to us as well as your article in the Winter 2006-07 issue of The Old Schoolhouse. Thank-you for your time and ministry to homeschooler’s.
Misty M
You have asked several good questions. Your group is fortunate to have you as a co-director.

Yes, it is OK to not have members vote; I have been on several nonprofit boards that do not have members vote.

Yes, you can set up your bylaws to allow final approval of ideas to be a board responsibility. You may establish a practice of considering suggestions and recommendations; you may not need to formalize the practice in the bylaws.

Yes, you can appoint a board without a member vote. This is done quite frequently on nonprofit boards, especially fine arts boards (i.e., art museums, symphonies, ballets, etc). Many boards find their own members from interested members, volunteers or patrons.

You can accept dues without being a 501c3 or having nonprofit corporation status. If you have a large surplus you may wish to consider nonprofit incorporation to legally establish your group as a nonprofit. My co-op filed for nonprofit incorporation last year because we have been carrying a large cash surplus for several years. We didn’t want our state to think we are a for-profit business and charge us business income tax. These articles might be helpful:

Do We Need to Incorporate?
7 Great Reasons to Incorporate

As a guideline, your board should remember their fiduciary duty (duty of care and duty of loyalty) to manage the funds with the purpose/mission of the organization in mind and not for private gain or benefit.
The board’s job is

  • to provide for fiscal accountability,
  • approve the budget, and
  • formulate policies”

(from “Major Duties of Board of Directors),

In other words, think first of what is best for the organization.

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA


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