General Question

6rant6's avatar

Are there rules that govern procedures of 501(c) (3)?

Asked by 6rant6 (13692points) June 24th, 2012

I am part of a 501c (3) which just elected a board of directors. The election featured a number of strange circumstances. Checking the bylaws to figure out what should happen made things worse – essential rules are omitted and other rules are contradicted.

Is there any overarching set of __internal__ procedural rules that, by law, our organization must follow?

I am not concerned with the activity of our organization outside of elections and meetings. I know there are many rules about what the organization must and cannot do. That’s not what I’m asking.

We are incorporated in California.

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7 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

Yes. You can Google it and get the documents from California Statutes or some such. I know it’s there; I’m not certain of the route to take.

6rant6's avatar

@Sunny2 I’ve been looking. One of the problems is that there is so much about 501 c (3)s and lobbying restrictions.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, the rules governing a non-profit are very complicated. I suggest you contact a lawyer and find out if you can have a free consultation.

This has great tips and ideas. Of course, you could read the IRS regulations but it does require a lot of time and effort.

The wikipedia article(c) has a lot of great information and some good reference links and articles.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You need to file a return with the IRS and most likely CA annually, depending on the size of your group’s assets and revenues. Your group should have an accountant. If not you need to get one.

marinelife's avatar

Here is what CA says:


The affairs of the Corporation shall be managed by its Board of Directors. The number of directors and their terms shall be as provided in the Bylaws. The directors of the Corporation shall be elected in the manner described in the Bylaws.”

This is found in this document. (#4)

wundayatta's avatar

Depending on the size and purpose of the 501c3, I suggest letting this go. If it’s a big charity, and money is at stake, then sure, worry about it. But if it’s a small organization, and it doesn’t have a big budget, and it serves a limited number of people and they all know who they are, then what is served by getting lawyers involved and worrying about some minor election irregularities? Or are things much more wrong than you have told us?

6rant6's avatar

@wundayatta No one is going to storm the castle with torches, believe me. It’s more for future reference. Board members often assert “it’s in the bylaws” when they decide how to do things, and frequently, it’s not in them. Hiring a lawyer – not a chance in hell.

I did find some answers in the California Corporations Code. In the areas I’m thinking about, it isn’t very specific – which is probably good in that it allows groups to operate in the way they find most efficient.

I got a wonderful response to a this question posted on

First I’d ever heard of it. It’s free and I had the answer in a couple of hours. Better service than if I were paying probably.

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