Grassroots volunteering in West Africa

How to Start an NGO: Draft a constitution

This is the fourth in our series about starting an NGO in Ghana, but the first three steps can be applied to NGOs world-wide.

The 4th Step: Constitution.

After setting up your board of directors, to establish an NGO in Ghana you must create a constitution. The constitution is a set of self-imposed governing principles by the NGO and therefore, must be consistent with the specific needs of your NGO.

The constitution stipulates specifically how your NGO will be run. It determines the structure, roles and responsibilities of those involved, and organization of your NGO. It also guides your organization’s operations and activities. It should be clearly written, deliberately structured and be up-to-date to meet the needs of your NGO.

The constitution will guide the behavior of all staff and members of your NGO, including the behavior and actions of the Board of Directors and the Executive Board. Each member of your organization must have a copy of the constitution of your NGO for reference purposes.

Constitutions vary according to the specific needs of NGOs, however the following list is a guide of commonly included elements

  • Official name of your NGO
  • The vision/mission and goals/objectives
  • Registered office
  • The programme areas
  • Members and qualifications and length of memberships
  • Board size, responsibilities, structure
  • Structure of board meetings
  • Committee Structure
  • Executive positions and functions and procedure for dismissal
  • How your NGO is funded
  • How funds are applied
  • Amendment procedure for the amendment of the constitution
Constitution text

Constitution text

You can appoint a constitutional committee to draft the constitution and submit it to the board of directors and executive board for approval. Once approval is given, the constitution becomes the over-arching standard by which your NGO operates and regulates its activities, behavior and actions of all its members, including the board of directors and the executive board.

It is important for the constitutional committee to do close consultation with the board of directors, the executive board and the broad-base membership of your NGO to reduce the risk of disapproval of the drafted constitution.

It is wise to include a review of your constitution in your annual planning process so that you can adapt your activities to the needs of your NGO.

Image by Wikipedia Commons

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One Response to How to Start an NGO: Draft a constitution

  1. Prophet ofori kwabena jacob says:

    i wish to know if there are offices here in ghana who can help in the drafting of an NGO constitution and their address.thank you for your respose

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