Glossary: Association democratic

Getting a hang of associations and how they work is hard as it is, add to that learning about associations in a different language = Puh! On this site we’ve listed some of the most common words used within Swedish associations, hopefully it can make it a bit easier to understand what means what.

Note that the words are in both Swedish and English and the description only in English. If you wish to see a Swedish description as well, you find a Swedish version of the glossary here:

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Ajournera = Adjourn 

Postpone or defer something so it will happen later. For example, a point at a meeting agenda can be adjourned to another time, so instead of making a decision now, the decision is made later. Example: Decisions on the purchase of new mats are adjourned until after lunch. 

Ansvarsfrihet = Discharge  

This means that you accept and approve the work the board has done during the past financial year. A discharge decision is made by the members at the annual meeting. Either you grant the board discharge or you do not. Often the decision is made based on what the auditor or auditors propose.

Avslag = Rejection  

This means that you do not agree and/or vote against a proposal that has been presented, for example at an annual meeting. Example: I reject the board’s proposal of the purchase of new mats. 

Begära ordet = Request the floor

At an annual meeting, you need to request the floor if you want to say something. You request the floor by, for example, by raising your hand or, if the meeting is online, pressing a certain button that says “Request the floor” or “Raise your hand”. 

Bevilja = Grant

It means approve or accept.

Bifall = Approval 

This means agreeing and/or voting in favour of a presented proposal, for example at an annual meeting. Example: “I approve the board’s proposal of purchase of new mats” or “I request approval for the board’s proposal of purchase of new mats”. 

Blankröst/rösta blankt = Blank vote/voting blank

If you do not want to cast your vote in a voting, you can vote blank, which means that you vote but you do not vote for either option or neither for nor against. In other words, a blank vote means that you abstain to vote on this issue. 

Bokföring = Bookkeeping

This means taking notes on the financial transfers, income and expenses made. These are then compiled after one year in a financial statement.

Bokslut = Financial statement

Is a word used to describe an association’s or confederation’s compilation of its finances and the financial transfers, income and expenses made during the last fiscal and financial year. The financial statements will be presented at the annual meeting.

Bordlägga = Shelve

It means postponing or delaying something until later. For example, a point at a meeting agenda can be shelved to another time, so instead of making a decision now, the decision is made later. Example: Decisions on the purchase of new mats are shelved until after lunch. 

Brutet räkenskapsår = Fiscal year not following calendar year

A fiscal year that does not follow the calendar year means that the fiscal year does not start on January 1, it can start in September, for example. No matter which month of the year the fiscal year begins, the fiscal year must always start on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the month of the following year. Examples of a fiscal year not following calendar year are: 1 September to 31 August.
    Fiscal years (both following and not following calendar year) mean much the same as the financial year, but focus not only on the activities that took place during the year, but the fiscal year focuses primarily on how the economy has been during the past year. Fiscal years include, for example, financial statements and accounting. A fiscal year (both following and not following calendar year) is always, except for the first year of the association or confederation, 12 months.

Dagordning = Agenda

In order for a meeting to run smoothly and contain relevant information, there is always an agenda or a list of topics for the meeting. An agenda is a bit like a schedule for the meeting, which lists what should be addressed at the meeting and the order in which it should be done (sometimes there may be dates and times when certain topics or issues should be discussed). In this way it should also be easier to keep up with the meeting as a participant. Most often, the first point on the agenda is the chairperson opening the meeting and the last point is the chairperson concluding the meeting. 

Demokrati = Democracy

Is a word for a special form of governance where the people are in charge. The opposite of democracy is dictatorship, then all power lies with one or a few people.

Distrikt = District

Is a word used to describe a geographical area or region. For example, the district of Skåne.

Fullmakt = Power of attorney

This allows someone else to temporarily have the power they have themselves. For example, you can give someone else a power of attorney to vote on behalf of you at an annual meeting..

Förbund = Confederation

A confederation is much like an association, but instead of individual persons being members of a confederation, usually the associations are the members. Therefore, confederations are usually more centrally controlled than associations. A confederation is like an organisation to which associations (or persons) with common interests are members. Examples of confederations are the Swedish Budo & Martial Arts Confederation and the Asthma and Allergy Confederation. 

Förening = Association 

An association is a group of people who have come together to work or exercise together for a common interest. An association is often its own legal entity, which means that the association has a board and statutes that describe how the association should be managed and governed.

Företräda = Act for

It means the same as representing.

Förtroendeuppdrag = Position of trust 

Most non-profit assignments are called positions of trust. This means that those who have a position of trust have been given the members’ trust to have the assignments they have, e.g. to be a leader in the association or chairperson of the board.

Justerare = Adjuster 

An adjuster, often also called a protocol adjuster, reads through a protocol to make sure that what is there is correct and consistent with what happened and was said at the meeting. 

Kalenderår = Calendar year 

Calendar year is the word that describes the year that starts January 1 and ends December 31.

Kallelse = Summon 

Means the same as invitation.

Kassör = Treasurer 

The treasurer is the person who is responsible for the finances of an association and board of directors.

Kommitté = Committee 

Committee is a word sometimes used to describe a group that has special responsibility for something in an association or a confederation. Examples of committees are: Medical committee or educational committee.

Ledamot = Ordinary member 

The members who are on a board and are not selected to be chairperson or vice-chair, treasurer or vice-treasurer, secretary or vice-secretary are members. 

Majoritet/Majoritetsbeslut = Majority/Majority decision 

Majority means that something is or has more than anything else. If 10 people are going to choose between buying soft ice or ice-cream for the association’s café and 6 of the people vote for soft ice and 4 of the people for ice-cream, the soft ice has a majority, as most people voted for it. This type of majority is called an absolute majority and is the most common type of majority used to make decisions on issues at an annual meeting.
    Another type of majority is a qualified majority, which means that a proposal or issue must receive at least 2/3 of the votes. In the example above with the ice-creams, this means that 7 people will have to vote for the soft ice instead of 6, because then the soft ice gets at least 2/3 of all 10 votes. Qualified majority voting is needed when proposing amendments to the statutes, for example. 

Medlem = Member 

A person who has paid the membership fee to their association becomes a member of that association. 

Medlemsavgift = Membership fee 

That is the amount of money you pay to be a member of an association. How high or low the membership fee should be in an association is determined by the members at the annual meeting. 

Motion = Motion 

Proposals that come from members and not from the board. Motions are submitted in advance to the annual meeting, how and when a motion must be submitted by is written in the statutes, but usually it can be via email. Decisions on motions will be made later at the annual meeting. 

Nominera = Nominate 

It’s the same as proposing or appointing. For example, you can nominate a person for an award or assignment. Example: I nominate Eric as Coach of the Year. Or: I nominate Eric as Chairperson of the Board. 

Ombud = Delegate 

Describes a person who has been authorised to represent someone else, e.g. at an annual meeting. If you want to but cannot attend an annual meeting, by authorising someone else, you can let that person go and vote for you. Check what applies in your association or confederation regarding delegates and authorisations. 

Ordförande = Chairperson 

Is the person leading the agenda and conversation at a meeting, which means both starting and ending a meeting and, when it suits, giving the floor to others in the meeting who want to have their say. The Chairman of a Board is also responsible for inviting the board to board meetings.

Proposition = Proposition 

Proposals from the board are called propositions. Propositions for the annual meeting shall be included in the board’s invitation to the annual meeting. 

Protokoll = Minutes 

Means the same as meeting notes or written report. In associations, the notes from meetings, such as board meetings or annual meetings, are often referred to as minutes.

Revisor = Auditor 

The person who conducts the financial audit or control of an association’s or confederation’s finances is called an auditor.

Räkenskapsår = Fiscal year 

Fiscal years mean much the same as the financial year, but focus not only on the activities that took place during the year, but the fiscal year focuses primarily on how the economy has been during the past year. Fiscal years include, for example, financial statements and accounting.
    A fiscal year is always, except for the first year of the association or confederation, 12 months. A fiscal year always starts on January 1 and runs until December 31.

Rösträtt = Right to vote 

This means that you have the right to vote in elections and votes, e.g. at an annual meeting.

Sekreterare = Secretary 

Is the person who writes notes at a meeting. At an annual meeting, it is the secretary who writes the minutes of the meeting. 

Sektion = Department

Department, or unit, is a word sometimes used to describe a group that has special responsibility for something in an association or a confederation. Examples of departments are: Department of Medicine and Youth Department.

Stadgar = Statutes 

Are a form of regulation and conditions for an association. The statutes usually state why the association exists, what activities it should conduct, how those activities should be organised and how the association should be governed. The statutes also state what rights and obligations you as a member have and also how the membership fee is decided and when it should be paid by.
    Information about the association’s annual meeting is also stated in the statutes, for example when, where and how the meeting will be held and when the invitation to the meeting should be sent out to the members. All associations must have their own statutes. 

Styrelse = Board 

It is made up of people who were voted in at the annual meeting. A board consists of a chairperson, a treasurer and a secretary. In addition to the three people, there may be more people, those people are called ordinary members. The board is for an association or confederation what the government is for us citizens, they are appointed to be responsible for and steer the association or confederation forward. 

Styrelsemöte = Board meeting 

The meetings the board has are called board meetings.

Suppleant = Deputy 

They are members of the board but not actively. A deputy is much like a fire-fighter on call, which means that if a person on the board, for example an ordinary member, cannot attend a meeting or wants to terminate his or her assignment as an ordinary member early, it is the deputy who steps in and takes that person’s place. You can call the person a reserve ordinary member. 

Träningsavgift = Training fee 

In some associations, in addition to membership fees, there is also a training fee. The training fee is the amount of money you pay to train in an association or club while the membership fee is the fee you pay to be a member of the association or club. Often the training fee is a little more expensive than the membership fee as the training fee is used to, for example, pay the rent for training facilities, purchase equipment and so on.

Utlysa/utlyst = Call/called 

It means about the same as advertising or promoting something. You often say that you call the annual meeting, which means sending out an invitation and setting up information about the meeting in places where it will reach the members, e.g., in the clubhouse. Reports on performance the past year, such as the costs and the issues and proposals (propositions and motions) to be addressed at the annual meeting, must also be presented to members in advance. How, when and where the information will be presented is stated in the statutes. 

Valberedning = Nominating committee 

A nominating committee is a group of persons responsible for proposing people who can be members of a board. Most often, the nominating committee proposes one person as Chairperson of the Board and then various persons to be ordinary members and deputies. The proposals will be presented and voted on at the annual meeting. The members of the nominating committee are voted in by the members at the annual meeting. Each association and confederation must have its own nominating committee. 

Verksamhetsberättelse = Annual report 

Is a summary or written report of what has happened in the association/confederation during the past year. The annual report will be presented at the annual meeting.

Verksamhetsplan = Business plan 

Is a proposal from the board on what and how they think the association/confederation should conduct its business in the coming year. The business plan will be presented at the annual meeting.

Verksamhetsår = Financial year 

Describes the period of activity of an association or confederation. A financial year starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

Votering = Voting 

It means the same as election. To vote about something.

Yrkande = Claim 

An opinion or a comment. Most often, a proposal is claimed, e.g. for an amendment or an addition to an already presented proposal (a motion or proposition). Example: “I reject the board’s claimed proposal to buy new mats and instead propose that the association buy new water bottles.” A claim can also be used to support only one proposal that has been presented, such as “I support the board’s claimed proposal to buy new mats” or “I would like to approve the claimed proposal to buy new water bottles instead of mats”. A claim can thus be made to show other participants how they intend to vote on the issue. 

Årsmöte = Annual meeting 

As the name suggests, the annual meeting is a meeting that is usually held once a year. It is the board that invites the members of the association or the confederation to the annual meeting. At the annual meeting you go through the past year, what has happened since the last annual meeting up until the new annual meeting.
    The items and issues to be addressed at the meeting are in a list of topics/agenda. At the annual meeting, it is the members who vote and make decisions on various issues and decide how they want the future of the association or confederation to be. In order to vote, you as a member must have paid the membership fee to the association or the confederation.
    Sometimes some associations have an age limit on how old you must be to vote, just as in order to vote in the Swedish government and parliamentary elections you need to be 18 years of age. 

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