FERMA’s scientific adviser Marie-Gemma Dequae and executive director Florence Bindelle spoke to the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) in Brussels on 14 March on the subject of suitable governance models for associations and how they fit into the current legal and administrative framework in Europe.

Although corporate governance regimes have been designed with large, publically quoted companies in mind, not-for-profit organisations such as trade associations also need rules and procedures to determine how they are managed and controlled in the interest of the owners, shareholders or members.

Marie-Gemma described the development of current corporate governance regimes, the principles of separating the strategic board from the executive management and the roles of each of them and specialist committees, such as the audit committee. She showed the responsibilities of the board of a not-for-profit organisation for purpose, policy and values; accountability; stewardship and strategic thinking.

Florence, who is a member of the board of ESAE, explained how corporate governance guidelines created for companies can be transposed for a not-for-profit organisation, such as FERMA.

She described the measures that FERMA has agreed over the past five years to create a set of rules governing the role and power of its governing bodies and decision-making processes. For example, the by-laws are reviewed every five years and the governance and administrative procedures every year.

In the case of FERMA, the general assembly, made up of representatives of the member associations, has certain responsibilities, such as oversight of membership issues, voting rights and by-laws. The board of directors is entrusted with defining the strategy, setting objectives and empowering the executive management. Some simple measures are in place, such as monthly tele-conferencing with the board and executive management to enable immediate discussion of hot topics.

The presentation is available at