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Governing Documents

Governing Documents

(Constitution, Bylaws, Standing Rules, Policies)



Units, Counties, Districts and our Department organization all need documents to govern how we do things, when we do things, and what is expected of officers and members. These documents should be reviewed annually.  Any changes must be submitted to the Department Parliamentarian before they become operative.  Governing documents may not be in conflict with the National or Department Governing Documents. 


The Constitution and Bylaws are the foundation of the organization.  They contain the most essential provisions relating to the organization including the name of the Unit, purpose, membership, officers, meetings, governing (executive) board, committees and parliamentary authority.  Amending these documents requires a 2/3 majority vote and prior notice of pending changes.  Do not include information that often requires changes.


Standing Rules contain the details of administration.  They can be adopted or amended at a Unit Meeting with prior notification, by a majority vote (unless the bylaws stipulate otherwise) or without prior notification by a two-thirds vote.  They should contain:


  1. Time (day and hour) of meeting, place of meeting.
  2. Dues – Senior, Junior, Life Members, and information on dues that the Unit will pay for specific members (example: Gold Star Mothers, Active Duty Military, those in Nursing Homes, etc.)
  3. Election of Officers.  When is it held?  Which officers are elected or appointed.
  4. Installation of Officers – when, where, who is in charge.
  5. Election of Delegates to County, District and Department meetings – when and how selected.
  6. Audit – when and by whom.
  7. Finance
  1. Working funds for officers, chairmen, poppy purchases, ALA Girls State, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, etc.
  2. Benevolence - gifts for illness, death, etc. Funeral dinner? 
  3. Expenses for delegates to attend County, District and Department meetings (registration fee, mileage, per diem).
  4. Courtesies for visitors (Department President, District President, County President)
  5. How bills are paid and who signs the checks.
  1. Any other rules specific to your Unit.
  2. Date the Standing Rules were amended and signature of President and Committee Chairman.



Sandy Deacon, Chairman

317 9th St

Ames, IA  50010


Parliamentary AuthorityThe most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised shall govern this organization in all cases that are not in conflict with state statute, the constitution, the bylaws, or any special rules of order adopted by the organization.



How to Write a Resolution


A resolution is a written, formal motion.  Resolutions are used because the motion may be presented in written form with some of the reasons included in the document.  If written well, the resolution makes it easier for members to consider the proposal, importance, length and complexity of the motion.


A resolution has two sections – the resolving clauses and the reasons.  Resolving clauses tell the specifics of the proposal.  The main reasons a motion should be adopted are included in the “Whereas” clauses.  Neither section should include more clauses than are absolutely necessary.  Simple, but specific is best.


The two sections of a resolution can be written in either order, but many believe it is better to write the main motion first and then write the reasons it should be adopted.  This way, you first determine what is to be done.  Focus on the most crucial specifics essential in the motion.  Say it in one or two sentences.  A third sentence could include who is responsible and a timeline.


Once the main motion is determined, develop three to five statements to support the adoption of it.  These are worded as “Whereas” clauses.  These points should be the most important and least controversial arguments for the motion.  Stay focused on the points that are strictly necessary.  Leave other points for the discussion.


When the resolution is finally written, it begins with the “Whereas” clauses and ends with the “Resolved” clauses. 


(See sample resolution in Support Tools at



Resources Available:


  1. Department of Iowa Constitution, Bylaws and Policies, available online at


  1. National Constitution, Bylaws, and Standing Rules available online at


  1. Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, available from Emblem Sales, at local bookstores, and online at



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