The constitution of a nonprofit organization specifies how the organization operates. A typical constitution addresses all aspects of the organization, purpose, functions, persons in charge and members. Normally you have to write it before you create your nonprofit organization, specify how the constitution will come into force, and detail how the organization can change the constitution if necessary. In addition to a constitution, a nonprofit organization may have bylaws and other rules governing specific aspects of operation.

Specify the name of the organization. If you are an informal group that wants to adopt a constitution as your guide to operating, choose any name you want as long as it is reasonably unique. If you are an incorporated nonprofit organization, choose the officially registered name and a "doing-business-as" name if you wish.

Select the mission or goals of the organization. List broad objectives and activities that can encompass an evolution of the organization's operations.

Describe all aspects of membership in the organization. Carefully define the qualities and characteristics you want in members, how the public can apply to become members and how members are approved for membership. You should also describe what constitutes unacceptable behavior and how members who engage in such behavior can have their memberships canceled.

Detail the structure of the board of directors and the positions of the officers who run the organization. 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.

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, a general meeting for members must be held at least once a year. Other information that must be detailed includes who can call meetings and how participants will be notifed. Meeting quorums and meeting procedures, such as rules of order, must be laid out.

Spell out how your nonprofit organization will raise and spend money. Write down which officer is responsible for the organization's banking, who has to sign checks, who keeps the books, and who prepares the annual report. For larger organizations, specify the accountant who signs the annual report.

Detail the procedures to follow if the organization wants to amend its constitution. In most nonprofits, the members have to approve changes to the constitution by a vote greater than a majority.

Provide a procedure to use for the dissolution of the organization. This may become necessary if members want to stop operating the nonprofit 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 nonprofit to turn over the assets to another nonprofit organization.