Roots of Big Old Tree

Document Governance

During the growth phase, the council strengthens its organizational capacity by choosing a decision-making process, affirming its purpose, and designing a flexible structure.  As these decisions are made, they make up the governance of the group.

What is governance?

Not to be confused with government, governance is the rules or norms of council organization.   Often referred to as bylaws, the documentation of how the group will operate is an important tool for ensuring continuity over time.

What else should you consider?

Councils are unique.  While starting with the organizing group’s bylaws can get an overall frame established, ensure the values of your council are clearly reflected.

It’s not permanent.  Consider putting term limits in place.  For example, During a one year term limit, the governance committee of a council collects feedback on how its working – and where improvements are needed.  Present a revision after a year that takes into account what has been learned.  Once a council reaches maturity, it will need to review bylaws and governance on a periodic basis.


Here are tools and resources for documenting governance decisions.