If there is no RFSL Branch where you live, and you and some other people are interested in working within RFSL, you can start a new Branch. There are some steps that need to be taken in order for you to be able to establish yourselves as RFSL 'Your town'. The National Office and Association Board are happy to assist in the formation of a new Branch, so it is a good idea to contact them first.
Here is a step-by-step guide.
1. Forming an Interim Board
You must set up a meeting where all those who are interested in being part of a new Branch come together and form an Interim Board, whose task is to form the association. Please contact the National Office so that an RFSL representative can attend the meeting and provide additional help, when needed.
The Interim Board is assigned the task of:
- contacting the National Office about possibly dividing the members that already exist between the new Branch and any neighbouring Branches
- making suggestions on the statutes for the new association (use RFSL’s Statutes for Branches as a starting point)
- calling all RFSL members in the area, and others who are interested, to a constitutive annual meeting (where everyone has the right to vote at the meeting since the statutes on membership are not yet in effect)
- ensuring a caucus, that there are candidates for the Board, Auditors, and a Nomination Committee at the annual meeting, in addition to ensuring there is a Chairperson and Secretary for the meeting.
2. Contact the National Office regarding Members and Local Area
Since RFSL’s members are divided into specific Branches, the establishment of a new Branch means that another Branch will lose some members. In this case, the local areas have to be adjusted, and the National Office can help you with this.
3. Constitutive Annual Meeting
Arrange a constitutive annual meeting where you elect a President, Treasurer, and other Board Members, as well as a Nomination Committee and Auditors. (See RFSL’s Statutes on what items should be addressed at the annual meeting) In addition, you must also accept RFSL’s Statutes for Branches, and decide to apply to be part of RFSL’s National Association.
4. Constitutive Board Meeting
At the first Board Meeting (Constitutive Board Meeting), you elect the candidates for the Board positions, including Vice President, Secretary, Member Administrator, and Internet Administrator. It is important that you do not forget to elect an authorised signatory for the association. The protocol should state the candidates’ full name, person number, and telephone number, and it must also be ensured that it is approved by someone other than the authorised signatory.
5. Apply to Become a Member Branch of the Association
Write a letter to the RFSL Association Board applying to become a Member Branch of the National Association, enclosing the statutes and protocol from the annual meeting. The Board only meets once a month, so it can take some time before you become officially affiliated to the association. When your application has been approved, you can name your Branch, RFSL ‘Your town’, and apply for a registration number.
6. Apply for a Registration Number
Every legal entity (such as companies and organisations) has a registration number. You can apply for a registration number at Skatteverket (Tax Agency). Applications for non-profit organisations are made using a special form, enclosing the statutes, a protocol stating the establishment of the Branch, that a Board has been chosen, along with the names of Board Members, and a protocol stating the authorised signatory.
Without a registration number, you cannot open a bank account, apply for grants, purchase by invoice, and many other things that a non-profit organisation needs to do.
7. Opening a Bank Account
RFSL uses Swedbank for its banking services, so this information applies to Swedbank, but other banks probably work in a similar way when it comes to organisations. To open an account and avail of banking services, Swedbank needs to access authorisation documents from the association – the statutes, protocols from annual meetings, and the protocol from the Constitutive Board Meeting. Additional information is needed about the individuals (name and person number) who will have access to Internet banking, as well as the address and contact people of the association.
As soon as the bank has the necessary information, it will contact you to arrange the accounts and services needed, and discuss if you want to close accounts and services in other banks, or move giros and credit cards, for example.
8. Finding Premises
A new Branch has no money, so its hard to find premises. Check with adult education associations, schools, other organisations, and the municipality to see if you could have a meeting space that is initially free of charge. You can also arrange meetings at cafés or other commercial premises, but, in the long term, it is good to secure a consistent place. Is there an RFSU, Amnesty, Red Cross or other organisation that is supportive towards RFSL? They might be able to help. If you do not want to host parties with alcohol, sobriety organisations (IOGT-NTO, for example) often have premises at different locations that you might be able to use.
9. Recruiting Members
A Branch is not a Branch without its members, so now it is time to seriously start recruiting, such as through member activities, outreach, and visibility in the media.