2. Establish a Structure

2. Establish a Structure

The structure chosen for the organisation should be as open and democratic as possible. You should provide for regular meetings in which all members may have a say and opportunities for many members to take leadership or decision-making roles.


All IFUW national affiliates should provide for a regularly scheduled General Assembly that is the supreme authority of the organisation. It should be open to any member who wishes to attend. In some associations this body meets annually; in others meetings are held every two or three years. The General Assembly is normally responsible for establishing policy, approving financial and other reports, setting membership fees, electing officers, and amending the constitution and by-laws.


All IFUW national affiliates should provide for a Board of Officers or Executive Committee, usually comprised of a president, one or more vice-presidents, a secretary, a treasurer, and the Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). Some include the chairpersons of standing committees, others include branch presidents or one or two members-at-large (members where no branch exists). It is preferable that the national officers be from different parts of the country or that the Board of Officers rotate from region to region. Wider representation facilitates communication and cooperation among members.


IFUW requires that provision be made for the regular election of executive members and that there be limits on the maximum length of service for officers. Most IFUW affiliates set the term of office at either two or three years. IFUW recommends strongly that members serving on the Board of Officers or Executive Committee be limited to two consecutive terms, except to serve as president for one further term.


Some of our larger associations and federations that require their General Assembly to meet only once every two or three years also provide for another mechanism or body, sometimes called a Council, which meets at more frequent intervals, once or twice a year. This body takes decisions necessary to the activities of the organisation between meetings of the General Assembly. In most cases the Council is comprised of the Board of Officers and representatives of each of the local branches/regions.


In order to share work responsibilities and to provide a wider opportunity for leadership roles, most national groups also provide for standing committees covering areas such as finance, membership development, programme, projects, international relations, and publicity.