What are stichtingen, verenigingen, and VvEs?

There are lots of different legal structures in the Netherlands, such as the stichting (foundation), vereniging (association), and VvE (owners’ association). But what are the defining features of these legal forms, and what are the differences between them? We have outlined everything you need to know below.

The vereniging (association) 

If you have a wish, goal, or objective, such as improving a local commercial area, playing sports, or making music, and want to work with others to achieve it, you might want to form a vereniging. 

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The stichting (foundation) 

If you want to achieve a particular social, societal, or idealistic goal, such as nature conservation, helping other people or spreading culture, and if you have capital to help achieve this goal, you can form a stichting (foundation). 

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The VvE (owners association) 

If you want to manage and/or maintain the communal areas and affairs of an apartment building, you can found a Vereniging van Eigenaars (VvE, owners’ association) to represent the common interests of the owners. VvEs have to be registered with the Chamber of Commerce. 

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What are the differences between a vereniging (association) and a stichting (foundation)?

Generally speaking, people choose to form a vereniging (association) to engage in social activities together, with examples being sports clubs and community associations. A stichting (foundation), on the other hand, is usually formed to achieve or work towards an idealistic goal. Charities, for example, are often stichtingen (foundations). There are differences between these two legal forms and they are each subject to their own rules. Foundations must be set up with a notary and listed with KVK. This does not always apply to verenigingen, but it is recommended, as it lets you limit the joint and several liability of the directors. 

A vereniging has members, while a stichting does not. A foundation only has a board of directors. The members of the vereniging elect the board, which means that they are usually more democratic in practice but also complicates the decision-making process, because members can also vote on important matters. In a stichting, the board decides.