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Legal Structure of Associations

There is no general legal structure for associations because they can be established through different types of legal forms, which define their founding and organisation.

Types of Associations

In general, the law of associations depends on the legal form the association chooses. The various types come with different responsibilities for the members and executives of the association. The most common for smaller and voluntary associations like sports clubs is the unincorporated association, which can be established without any problems and almost no legal restrictions by the founding members.
Moreover, associations can be founded as charities, cooperatives, mutual organisations or an incorporated company, where different law applies for the association. 

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Founding, Membership and Dissolution of Associations

When founding an association, certain criteria need to be fulfilled. 

  1. A first meeting of the founding members
  2. Creating and approving bylaws for the association
  3. Appointing or electing a board of directors
  4. Writing down the results of the first meeting 

Generally, all associations, despite their different legal structures, have a general meeting open to all members and a board of directors who run the association on behalf of the members. More committees can be constituted in the bylaws.
Learn more about board of directors elections in associations!

To become a member, persons must be founding members or join the association. Members have a voting right at the Annual General Meeting, depending on the bylaws. 

Dissolution of the association 
The various legal forms suggest that an association can be dissolved on a general meeting if a quorum is reached and a majority votes in favour of dissolving the association. The association’s assets go to the person or organisation determined in the bylaws. 

POLYAS-Tip: If the bylaws allow it, you can hold your annual general meeting online. Let your members vote directly online and increase the voter turnout in your association. Learn how you can include online voting in your bylaws now!

Online Voting in Associations

Give your members the option to vote online on resolutions and their board of directors. Members who are not able to attend the general meeting can still exercise their voting right.

Lead your association into the digital future.

Our online voting experts are happy to help you in conducting online elections in your associations. Contact us now!