Services Sector Development & Export


How do we form an Association?

What is an association? Quite simply, associations are groups of people who find strength in numbers while sharing common interests in industries, professions, charities, hobbies, or philanthropic action. Associations are founded upon the principles of democracy, volunteerism, and common interest that are the heart of the individual experience. By definition, associations exist for the mutual enrichment and advancement of their members.  All associations, share the twin goals of helping their members and advancing society.

It is important that the coalition sets out criteria for association members in their bylaws that will facilitate and encourgae the association to perform the roles below.


Building the Foundation

An association should have at least three members. When starting an association, the first step is to identify a core group of leaders to serve as the organizing committee. These men and women should be chosen with care because they will probably become the new association’s first officers and board members. In order to remain a member of the coalition is obliged to host an Annual General meeting in every two year period.

Developing the Mission Statement

A mission statement is a vision of what the organization is to be and whom it is to serve. It answers the question, “What business are we in, and who are our customers?”

A mission statement is usually only one or two sentences, and should be broad enough to allow an organization to increase its goals and services without outgrowing its mission for many years.

Registration of Association

An association should be registered.  Registration ensures that an association has a legal identity and can undertake both association and coalition activities in an easy and transparent fashion.

An Attorney will be needed to prepare documents such as Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association.

The above information should then be taken to the Belize Companies Registry in Belmopan along with a registration fee $584.00.  Ideally, an association should seek to become incorporated.

Financial Support

How will we finance the new organization?

You will want to set the dues for each membership.  Your dues structure should meet the growth demands of your organization, generate adequate income, be equitable, and lead to accuracy in reporting. It should also be easy to administer.

After setting dues and estimating probable dues income, identify all other sources of potential income. Do you expect dues to be your only source of revenue? If so, you’d better proceed carefully. According to ASAE’s recentOperating Ratio Report, 12th Edition, dues represent less than 38 percent of total revenue for most associations today.  Other ways of collecting funds could be through certain programs administered by the association like certification or data collection, realize funds from the sale of publications, or possibly hold a trade show or continuing education programs etc.. Those can be organised base on the associations goals and mission.

Draft Bylaws

Bylaws are desirable because they define the internal structure of an organization and will serve as a guideline for board procedures long after the group’s founders have departed. Well-constructed bylaws are a useful tool not only for building the organization but also attracting new members. This is because bylaws reflect the image of an organization that is professional, well-managed, and aware of its legal responsibilities.

The following topics are typically covered in association bylaws:

  • Membership categories and qualifications
  • Application and resignation procedures
  • Membership privileges
  • Board size
  • Qualifications of officers: duties and terms of office
  • Description of standing committees
  • Nomination and election procedures
  • Methods of filling vacancies
  • Methods for amending bylaws
  • Indemnification of board and officers
  • Procedures for dissolution

Final Details

The final details involved in an organizational set up include things like deciding where meetings will be held, how often they will be held, decisions of who mails will be forwarded to and business reply accounts, establishing bank accounts and more. Most of these can wait to be handled by your new chief executive once he or she is chosen.

For almost every association in existence today, there was a beginning moment when a group of people banded together for a common purpose and declared, “We need our own association.”

An urgency or common need prompts people to work together to pursue goals and interests. Whatever the impetus, the decisions made by the founders during the start-up period of the new organization will have a profound impact on its success, effectiveness, and longevity.