First off, let me admit that I don't know whether all (or practically all) associations who can accept members from the general public must be administered under the rules of the loi 1901, or not. So please say if you know - otherwise I'll park that question for now.
My point for discussion is whether Associations are run mainly for their adhérents/members, or for their leaders? I gather that under loi 1901 they can't make a profit (or enrich those that run them) - and that the chairman can't also be the chief executive (or something of that ilk) - meaning that entrepreneurship or capital gain by one person is out, in favour of a "club" that does something for it's members (yadda yadda yadda). However, I guess they could distribute whatever profits there might have been as salaries/stipends for their executives. ??? or not???
The reason for my question is that i've come across a couple of Associations here that make me raise my eyebrows a little.
The first is my daughter's Athlétisme club - where we pay the standard EUR 130ish per annum - along with a hundred or two other youth members (and maybe also senior members, I'm not sure) - yet apart from the odd coach for transport they have no costs (or not that I can see, but the French seem good at thinking up fees for everything, like the Brits). Most of the transport to competitions consists of families going it alone and/or offering spare seats in cars to those whose parents can't transport them. And the hard-done-by athletics coaches are volunteers! WHAT do they do with our money, then? They must pay a bit to use the municipal running track, but all the same... now I know one of the senior members of the committee and it's clear he hasn't done any athletics in a VERY long time. His main hobbies are drinking, gambling, complaining about the health service, and passing xenophobic comments about his friends' wives (i.e. yours truly). I bet he has many a knees-up paid for from our membership fees.
The second is the local "franco-brit association". I went to a Christmas party of theirs, and led them in Christmas carols from a tinny portable piano that someone lent me. It was my idea. I did it because I miss Christmas and wanted to hear some carols - my husband is too humbug to celebrate Christmas so I thought I'd share my goodwill with someone who cared for it (!!!). Anyway, back to the point: I paid fairly handsomely for my ticket, and one for my daughter. They would like a website. This I can do, and could do it in English and French as well (with their help on the French side, of course). But do I stand a hope in hell of getting paid for it, or am I just another customer for their expensive (to a non-idemnised chômeur) soirées?
The Franco-Brit Association give much-needed French lessons to Brits (who've often retired here in a couple), who would otherwise really struggle to pick up the language. Their soirées are a cut above the average shindig at the Salle de Fêtes. So I don't knock their product - but it's a bit pricey for me until I start earning something (will probably still go as it will help me to integrate all the same).
Your thoughts, please. Associations - they clearly serve a social purpose and achieve great things. But are they also capitalism in disguise? I'm not a left-winger - I'm just interested in seeing how things tick here. I also, like many of you, would like to see how I can play an active part in the economy without always only being the end customer, if you see what I'm saying!!!