Services for NGOs

The CAGI assists international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) already established or seeking to do so in the Geneva region.

Annual legal requirements

Swiss law offers great flexibility and decision-making autonomy in matters of association law. However, associations are required to complete a number of mandatory procedures and formalities.

An association must hold an ordinary general meeting at least once a year, in person. In analogy with article 699 II.2 of the Code of Obligations , the general meeting should be held during the first half of the year. The competences of the General Assembly are regulated in article 65 CC .

Sample agenda for an ordinary general meeting

General meeting minutes template

The Committee must regularly keep accounts. The accounting books (inventory, operating account and annual balance sheet) must be complete, clear and easy to consult, so that interested persons can as accurately as possible realize the economic situation of the entity ( art. 959 CO ).

The accounts are established in Swiss francs or in the most important currency with regard to the activities of the company. If they are not drawn up in Swiss francs, the equivalents in Swiss francs must also be indicated ( art. 958 dC ). The accounts are kept for at least 10 years (art. 958 fE CO ). It is therefore important to keep all supporting documents. The Code of Obligations applies by analogy to the provisions of the CO relating to public limited companies.

Auditing of accounts

Associations are generally subject to limited verification of the accounts, or by an auditor, if a member of the association so requires. In other cases, the articles of association and the general assembly can organize the verification freely. It should be noted, however, that the ZEWO standards (recommendation no. 14) recommend appointing in any case at least one auditor, independent of the committee, to carry out a brief examination.

The association is subject to auditing if, during two successive financial years, two of the following values are exceeded:

  • total assets> CHF 10 million,
  • turnover> CHF 20 million,
  • headcount> 50 full-time jobs on average per year.

Within the framework of the ordinary verification of the accounts, the auditors will check not only the compliance of the accounts with the legal and statutory provisions, but also the existence of an internal verification system.

Presentation of accounting (profit and loss account, balance sheet and provisional budget)

Associations are bound by simple cash accounting, but it is preferable to produce annual accounts from the outset (an income statement, a balance sheet and a provisional budget).

It is important that the accounts mention the name of the NGO, the title of the document, the date of the financial year. Accounts must also be in Swiss francs.

A. Profit and loss account (income statement)

The income statement is an accounting document summarizing all the expenses and income of an association for a given period. This document gives the net income, that is, what the association has gained (profit) or lost (loss) during the period. The result for this period is recorded in the balance sheet.

B. Balance sheet

The balance sheet describes the state and distribution of the association’s assets on a given date. It communicates the results of an activity.

C. Provisional budget

This is the forecast of expenses and income for the coming year. A budget is necessarily provisional. It is presented as an income statement, and must be balanced, that is to say the total revenue must be equal to that of the expenditure. It is generally adopted at the annual general meeting and is requested when requesting financial support.

Model tables of profit and loss account, balance sheet and provisional budget

Swiss Gaap RPC standards

The purpose of the Swiss GAAP RPC standards is to develop a coherent and transparent framework for the presentation of the annual accounts of small and medium-sized entities, as well as non-profit organizations.

Their application by NGOs is not mandatory, but an increasing number of NGOs respect these standards. This presentation gives a faithful image of the assets, the financial situation and the results in order to improve, in particular, communication with the financial backers and the other circles concerned, while facilitating the comparability of the annual accounts/financial statements between the entities. and over time.

The standard is composed of a recommendation followed by an explanation with examples and a glossary on occasions.

The RPC 21 standard, concerning the establishment of the accounts of public utility non-profit organizations, is particularly relevant for NGOs.

All associations must complete an annual tax declaration (See: ” Guide to the declaration 2020 “). Organizations benefiting from an exemption remain subject to tax declarations.

Useful documents and information

Other useful information for NGOs

Direct taxes
Intellectual property and data protection

CAGI services
for NGOs and Permanent Missions

Founded by the Swiss Confederation and the Republic and Canton of Geneva, the Geneva Welcome Centre is the single entry point for the support and integration of employees of International Geneva and their families, NGOs and visiting delegates.