Maine Nonprofit Bylaws
Maine nonprofit bylaws are the rules and operating procedures adopted by the board of directors to run your nonprofit. Adopting bylaws for your Maine nonprofit is one of the first and most important steps in forming your nonprofit. Your bylaws will help you mitigate any internal issues and ensure your board knows how to operate your business.
We can help you get started with our attorney-drafted Maine nonprofit bylaws template.
Why does a Maine nonprofit need bylaws?
While it’s true you don’t have to file your nonprofit bylaws with the Secretary of State like the Maine Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation, this doesn’t mean your nonprofit bylaws aren’t just as crucial to maintaining your business. Here are some important factors to remember about Maine nonprofit bylaws.
1. Nonprofit bylaws are legally required in Maine.
According to ME Code 13-B§ 601, the board of directors or incorporators shall adopt initial bylaws, meaning bylaws are required in Maine. To keep your nonprofit in good standing in Maine, you will need to adopt bylaws.
2. Third parties will ask to see your bylaws.
If you’re applying for tax-exempt status from the IRS under 501(c)(3), you’ll need to attach a copy of your nonprofit bylaws to your application. Same goes for if you want to open a bank account in Maine for your nonprofit. Overall, your nonprofit bylaws help establish your nonprofit as a legitimate organization.
3. Nonprofit bylaws allow you more control over your nonprofit.
What happens if you don’t have clear or thorough bylaws? When you run into areas of potential dispute not covered by your bylaws, your nonprofit will be subject to the default rules laid out Maine’s corporate statutes—which may or may not be ideal for your company’s needs.
Or, if your bylaws don’t address a key topic clearly, disputes can end up in a courtroom where a judge will have the final say on how to run your business. Bylaws protect you and organize your business into a legally binding structure that works best for you.
Want to learn more? Check out our Guide to Nonprofits.
What do Maine Nonprofit Bylaws include?
Maine nonprofit bylaws should include basic information about your nonprofit like its name, business address, purpose, and specific guidelines for how your nonprofit will function internally. Your bylaws should provide your board of directors with clear instructions for how to run your nonprofit, including rules for:
- adding or removing board members
- giving notice and holding board meetings
- taking a vote and meeting quorum requirements
- handling conflicts of interest
- compensating directors
- keeping records
- amending the bylaws
- operating during emergencies
- dissolving the nonprofit
Are nonprofit bylaws legally binding?
Yes. In Maine, nonprofit bylaws aren’t just legally required, they are legally binding. All directors, officers, and shareholders are legally required to abide by the bylaws. During disputes, member, director, and officer attorneys are allowed to request your nonprofit’s bylaws.
Are nonprofit bylaws public record?
Sometimes. Although you don’t have to file your Maine nonprofit bylaws with the state, you do if you apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS. The IRS is federally required to publicly list all tax-exempt nonprofit bylaws.
Do nonprofit bylaws need to be signed?
No. However, signatures on your nonprofit bylaws creates a sense of legitimacy and guarantees all members and your board of directors are on the same page.
Can nonprofit bylaws be changed?
Yes. ME Code 13-B§ 601 says the power to amend rests with the board of directors unless your bylaws outline something different. You can change this in your bylaws if you’d like. We also advise you review your bylaws from time to time.
Who adopts nonprofit bylaws?
ME Code 13-B§ 601 states, “the initial bylaws of a corporation shall be adopted by its incorporators or its board of directors.”