Starting and running an association
Sweden has no law requiring non-profit associations to be registered or approved. A group of people can form an association without permission from the authorities. The association must, of course, comply with society's laws and rules. There are also a lot of practices that govern the activities of associations. You can learn more about how to do this here.
Here you will find information on how to set up an association and on the tasks of the board and its members.
In order to form an association, there must be a number of people who have a common interest. To start with, you choose a temporary board (interim board). This interim board should:
- Draft the statutes (rules) of the association. The statutes are important because they set out how the association will work.
- Propose a name for the association.
- Convene a general meeting at which the Association will be finally established. The notice should state that the purpose of the meeting is to form an association. It must also state the date and time of the meeting and the place where it is to be held.
- Prepare all issues to be discussed at the first meeting of the association.
- Sports associations should contact RF-SISU, telephone 0910-892 65 for information on the National Sports Federation and other matters.
Submitting information to the tax authorities
All associations must submit information on their income and expenditure to the local tax authority. The information is provided on a declaration form or a special information form. In order to register with the tax authorities, the association must submit its articles of association and details of the board of directors elected at a meeting of members. The association then receives its own organisation number. This is the tax authority's control number and can be compared to our personal identity number. In order to be registered in this context, the association must send in its statutes and the details of the board elected at a meeting of members.
The board of directors of an association is responsible for ensuring that the decisions taken by the association's meetings are implemented. The board is also responsible for administration, finances and various activities for members.
The board prepares the issues to be discussed at a members' meeting. The members' meetings then decide on all matters of major importance to the association, such as the planning of its activities (which also includes the association's finances).
The Board is jointly responsible for the Association's activities to the members. It also has judicial responsibility for the association in relation to society. This means that the Board has legal responsibility. For example, it can conclude contracts and be a party before the courts.
Board members have different responsibilities. Each board must have a chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. In addition, it is common practice to elect different officers. They are responsible for various activities planned by the association.
The Chair coordinates the work of the Board.
The tasks of the Chairperson may include:
- Chairs the meetings of the Board.
- Ensures that the decisions taken by the Association are implemented.
- Is often the association's signatory.
- Approves the association's receipts and payments.
Duties of the Vice-President
- Carries out the duties of the President when he or she is unable to attend. In some associations, the chairman and vice-chairman share the duties of the chairman.
- Takes care of the Association's mail.
- Takes the minutes of the Board.
- Maintains the Association's archives.
- Together with the President, is responsible for inviting members to meetings.
- Responsible for the finances of the association.
- Manages the Association's payments and receipts.
- Ensures, together with the President, that the Association's applications for grants are submitted to the appropriate authorities on time.
- Is responsible for the Association's accounts.
- manages the Association's membership register
- reports regularly to the Administrative Board on the financial situation of the Association
- "Sakansvarig", or "persons responsible" are members of the board that are responsible for their own area of activity (subject area), such as studies, women's affairs, culture, children's and youth activities or sport.
- They are also responsible for setting up activities in their areas of expertise.
- Preparing matters relating to their areas of expertise and presenting them (presenting them) before the Board or an association meeting takes a decision.
The auditors are responsible for control within the Association. They are the link between the members and the Board. The task of the auditors is to check that:
- The Board complies with the Association's statutes.
- The Board complies with the decisions of the members' meetings.
- The accounts and bookkeeping are in order. Check that there are receipts for all receipts and payments and that the amounts on the receipts are entered correctly in the cash book. Check that the Treasurer's accounts and financial reports are correct.
- The association does not violate the various laws and regulations of society.
The auditors shall submit a written report on their audit of the Association to the Annual General Meeting. The report is called the audit report.
During the year, the auditors should examine the accounts whether or not there is reason to suspect errors. In the audit report, the auditors record whether there are any objections to the work of the Board. They also propose whether or not the members should approve the work of the Board during the past year (grant discharge).
An association should have rules for its work. These rules are called statutes. Here are some examples of what the statutes should contain:
The name of the association
Objectives and tasks of the association
- Objectives of the association.
- The focus of the association's activities.
- The persons who are to become members of the association.
- How to become a member of the Association and how to leave it (resign membership).
- the rights and obligations of members
- How the association decides on membership fees (normally done at an annual meeting).
Year of operation - financial year
- Should the association's financial year follow the calendar year (1 January - 31 December) or some other division, such as 1 July - 30 June?
Rules for association meetings and annual general meetings
- When and how to call members to the annual meeting and other meetings of members (it is usual to do this at least two weeks before the date of the meeting).
- How far in advance of a meeting members must submit their proposals (motions) to the Board.
Rules of Procedure
- How decisions are taken at AGMs and other meetings of members (some statutes require at least two thirds of those present to agree in order to take a decision). Under other statutes, at least half must agree).
- When to use open and secret ballots (An open ballot means that everyone can see how the members vote. In a secret ballot, ballot papers are used, so the decisions of individual members are secret).
First, the association must agree on the issues to be decided at the annual meeting and when the annual meeting will be held.
In all associations, the following issues are always addressed at an AGM:
- Whether the notice of the meeting has been sent to the members in the manner prescribed by the statutes.
- the agenda to be discussed and decided at the meeting
- the election of the officers of the meeting (chairman, secretary, etc.)
- Whether to approve the Board's activity report and financial report.
- whether to approve the auditors' report.
- whether discharge has been granted to the Board
- the election of the Board of Directors and the auditors
- the amount of the membership fee
- the election of the nomination committee
Most associations also address the following issues at the annual meeting:
- What the association's activities and finances will look like in the coming financial year.
- Motions from members submitted in advance in the manner prescribed by the statutes.
- Proposals from the Board of Directors.
Board of Directors
- When the Board meetings should be held
- the number of members and alternates on the Board Alternates are substitutes who may step in if the full members of the Board are unable to attend themselves.
- The persons (signatories) who may sign on behalf of the association on various documents, financial settlements, etc. The most common way is for the chairman, together with someone else, such as the secretary or treasurer, to do this.
Amendments to the Statutes
- How to change the association's statutes (e.g. two successive meetings of members must take the same decision in order to change the statutes).
- How large a majority is required to amend the statutes (in Sweden, it is common that at least two thirds of the members present must agree in order to amend the statutes).
Dissolution of the association (closure)
- How to decide on the dissolution of the association (for example, two successive meetings of members must take the same decision, and the majority required for the decision: more than 50% or more is 2/3).
- What happens to the association's assets and liabilities in the event of dissolution?
At a meeting where you are forming an association, everyone must have an equal opportunity to participate in the discussion and influence decisions. The meeting should address the following points, among others:
Opening of the meeting
- The person who has convened the meeting, i.e. the chairperson of the temporary board, welcomes everyone and declares the meeting open.
- At the beginning of the meeting, the participants decide on the items to be included in the agenda.
Election of officers of the meeting
- At the beginning of the meeting, the meeting participants decide who will be the chairperson, secretary, recorder and tellers of the meeting.
- The chairperson is the person who presides over the proceedings of the meeting.
- The secretary records all decisions in minutes.
- The tellers read the minutes and check that all decisions taken are correctly recorded in the minutes. The recorders then sign the minutes. The minutes are also signed by the secretary and the chairman of the meeting.
- The vote counters are used in cases where the meeting participants cannot agree on something, but have to vote to see which proposal is supported by the majority. If everyone agrees, no counting is necessary.
Name of the Association
Statutes of the Association
- The meeting decides how much each person must pay the Association to be accepted as a member. The annual meeting decides each year how much the membership fee will be for the coming year.
Election of the President of the Association
- The President of the Association is usually elected at a special election. The other duties of the Board are divided among the Board members themselves.
Election of Board members and alternates
- The number of auditors and deputy auditors should be specified in the articles of association.
Election of the Nomination Committee
- A nomination committee normally consists of three to four persons. The task of the nomination committee is to propose (make proposals to) the next annual meeting who should be elected to the various positions of trust in the association, such as chairman, board members and auditors.
Of course, the first meeting of an association can also discuss and decide on other issues, such as what activities the association should carry out and how they should be financed. The completed and signed minutes of an association's first meeting serve as proof that the association has been formed.
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