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FRIENDLY SOCIETIES

Quick Links: Societies Registered under the Friendly Societies Act. | Friendly Societies | Benevolent Societies | Specially Authorized Societies | Features of a Friendly Society | For a Friendly Society to be successful there are certain basic requirements:- | Principles of Friendly Societies | Advantages | Statutory Obligations | When Is A Group Ready For Registration?| Conditions of Registration (Section 6 of the Act)
 

Societies Registered under the Friendly Societies Act

There are three types of Societies that can be registered under the Friendly Societies Act of 1966:

  1. Friendly Societies

  2. Benevolent Societies

  3. Specially Authorized Societies


Friendly Societies

A Friendly Society is established to facilitate assistance to members, their relatives and dependants in one or more of the following ways:

  1. The relief or maintenance of members, their families and relatives during sickness, old age or on becoming a widow or orphan;

  2. Insuring money to be paid

  • on the birth of a member’s child

  • on the death of a member

  • for funeral expenses of a member’s dependent

  • as relief during unemployment or distressful circumstances

  • against fire for tools or implements used by a member in his trade

  • against fire for household furniture

  • in the event of marriage of a member

Two major examples of these Societies are Burial Schemes and Lodges.
 

Benevolent Societies

These Societies are largely community based organizations established for Benevolent or Charitable purposes such as:-

  • creation of community development activities;

  • facilitate representations and recommendations to the relevant authorities for the improvement of the community infrastructure;

  • promote, assist and support the creation of healthy life styles and a high standard of family life;

  • foster the creation of job opportunities via skills training.

These Societies exist mainly in the form of Community Development Action Committees (CODACS) fostered by the Drug Abuse Secretariat to assist in the fight to reduce the incidences of substance abuse; Citizens’ Association and charitable organizations aimed at community development, and entities such as Clarendon Association of Street People (CLASP) which provides care for the mentally ill in Clarendon and Water Users Societies aimed at bringing domestic water to their communities.
 

Specially Authorized Societies

These Societies can be established  for any purposes other than banking with the authority of the Minister under whose portfolio the Department falls,

Features of a Societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act.

  • It is an organization established for business, civic, benevolent or charitable purposes.

  • It is owned by the members who make all the decisions.

  • It is democratically controlled; that is qualified members have an input in the making of decisions.

  • It provides a service to the members, designated individuals or organizations.

  • A Friendly Society is also a means of adult education, as a member through his Society can be taught better health care, nutrition or various other social skills.
     

For a Friendly Society to be successful there are certain basic requirements:-

  • Members must have a common need.

  • Members must be dedicated to the task of assisting be it for the community or for selected persons.

  • Members must assist by financing their Society (through dues, fund raising, donations, etc.)

  • The Society must have good leadership and proper management.

  • Members must support their Society.

  • Proper accounts must be kept of all financial transactions.

  • Members must have the will and desire to better themselves, or to create the opportunities for others to better themselves.


Principles of Friendly Societies

Societies also operate under certain principles, these are:

Open and Voluntary Membership
Friendly Societies are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use the services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination

Democratic Control
Friendly Societies are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in the setting of polices and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

Members Participation
Members contribute to the funding of their Societies, through dues, donation, contribution, etc. Members contribute to the development and expansion of their Societies through pooling of resources, human, cultural or as is otherwise necessary.

Autonomy and Independence
Friendly Societies are autonomous; self help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise funds from external sources, they do so on the terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their autonomy.
Education, Training and Information
Friendly Societies provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so that they can contribute effectively to the development of their Societies. They inform the general public – particularly, young people and leaders about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

Concern for Community
Societies work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members; and collaboration with government and non-government organization which can assist with their overall development.
 

Advantages

The main advantages are: -

  • The Society is managed by the members (i.e. the Committee of Management and members are the major decision makers within the Society).

  1. Members share in making the decisions at Annual General and other meetings.
    People are provided with the opportunity to pool their effort and skills to help themselves in a number of ways. It is an investment of the self, that is, 'for my own improvement", or the improvement of my fellowmen.

  2. The members make the Rules for the operation of the Society in accordance with the Friendly Societies Act, or any other Act that may infringe on the activities of the Society.

  • Continuous education is provided.

  • Management is participatory,

  • Decision-making is participatory.


Statutory Obligations

  • All Registered Societies are empowered to make and amend their Rules (Sections 10 & 11 of the Act). Such Rules shall be binding upon all members of the Society and contain all provisions stipulated in Regulation 3 of the Friendly Societies Regulations.

  • Every Society shall have a Registered Office to which all communications may be sent (Section 20 of the Act)

  • Every Society shall display its registered name legibly, in a conspicuous position outside its’ place of business (Section 21 of the Act)

  • No later than January 31 in every year every Society shall send a Return of the members and investments to the Registrar for the year ending December 31st preceding, showing:-

  1. the number of members on roll, including every person who at any time during the year was a financial member;

  2. the amount of money in the bank account of the Society;

  3. the amount of money invested in stocks, shares or debenture of any bank or building Society in Jamaica;

  4. the amount of money invested in real estate;

  5. the amount of money invested in shares in any Co-operative or authorized trustee securities

  6. the amount of money in the Treasurer’s hands at the close of the 31st day of December. (Section 22 of the Act)

  • Full and proper Minutes of all Annual, Regular, Special and Committee meetings must be kept (Regulations 4)

  • At least fourteen (14) days notice must be sent to members for all Special Meetings; or the alternative if notice is published once a week in a daily newspaper circulating in the Island of Jamaica during at least two consecutive weeks prior to such meeting (Regulations 7).

  • The Registrar shall audit or cause to be audited by some person authorised by him, the accounts of every Society at least once per year. (Section 23 (1) of the Act)

  • The Secretary of every Society shall prepare a list of documents to be supplied to the auditors (Regulation 29)

  • Every Registered Society no later than May 31 in each year shall send a return to the Registrar, known as the Annual Return. This Return shall show separately all receipts and expenditures of the Society. (Section 24 (i) of the Act)

  • The Registrar may require every Society at least once in every five (5) years to submit a Quinquenial valuation which includes:

  1. valuation of the assets and liabilities of the Society by a valuer, who shall be appointed by the Society and approved by the Registrar;

  2. a Return of the benefits assured and contributions received from all members and the debits and credits of all accounts accompanied by evidence in support there of as the Registrar may require (Section 25 of the Act)

  • It shall be the duty of the Secretary of every Society to supply the auditors for the purpose of the Annual Audit with a certified list of the amount of contributions, levies and fines in arrears in respect to every individual member. (Regulations 20)

  • The Committee of Management of every Society shall cause proper books of accounts to be kept. (Regulations 22)

  • The Committee of Management shall present yearly to the General Meeting a statement of Account in respect to the operation of a loan fund, if any, showing the loan outstanding, deposits on hand, installments or repayments due and unpaid, the action proposed to be taken in case and a general review of operation of the said fund. (Regulation 25)

  • A book shall be kept for the purpose of recording all levies imposed upon members by a Society during each year. (Regulations 39)

  • Every bond shall upon execution be filed in the office of the Registrar without payment of a fee. (Regulations 42)

  • Every Registered Society shall keep a copy of the last Annual Balance Sheet and the last Quinquennial valuation together with any special report of the prescribed persons, always posted in a conspicuous place. (Section 26 of the Act)

  • Every Society shall supply members with copies of the Rules of the Society at a cost to the members (Section 31 of the Act)

  • Every society shall on the application of any member interested in the funds of the society supply to that member:-

  1. copy of the last Annual Return of the Society

  2. a Balance Sheet or other audited documents containing the funds and Effects of the Society. (Section 32 of the Act)

  • Every Society shall keep a book known as the list of pensioners to record the name , age, address, and reason for the declaration of pensionable status for every person declared a pensioner by the society. This book shall be kept opened at all times for inspection by the member at all reasonable times without payment of a fee. (Regulation 47)
     

When Is A Group Ready For Registration?

A group is only regarded as being ready to be registered when it can meet the following minimum requirements:-

  • Have defined objectives and is able to offer benefits to its members and the wider community.

  • There is a genuine desire by the members to see the Society established and at least twenty-one (21) persons must have been enrolled in the membership.

  • There is sufficient number of members showing a good general understanding of the principles and practices as well as the proposed Rules of the Society. These members should be able to satisfy the Department of Co-operatives at an evaluation of their understanding of Friendly Societies Act and the proposed Rules.

  • The Committee of Management should be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of their role in the management of the Society and the procedures necessary to conduct a socially acceptable Society.

  • An appropriate accounting system has been established. The system should be standardised as far as possible.

  • There must be a secured office with the relevant furniture, facilities and personnel for the operation of the Society’s business.


Conditions of Registration (Section 6 of the Act)

  • A Society shall not be registered under the Friendly Societies Act unless it has twenty-one people. (Subsection 1)

  • A Society shall not be registered under this Act under a name identical with any other existing Society registered or so nearly resembling such name as to be likely to mislead the members or the public as to its identity. (Subsection 2)

 

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