The Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft is a registered association. Its members are 18 Research Centres, which are legally independent bodies. The activities of the Helmholtz Association are governed by its statutes. A full-time President heads the Helmholtz Association. The President is responsible for implementing the programme-oriented funding system. The President works with the Helmholtz Centres to develop the association's general strategy and represents the association internally and externally.
The central decision-making bodies at the Helmholtz Association are the Assembly of Members, made up of internal members of the association, and the Senate, made up of external members. The members of the Assembly of Members are the directors of the Helmholtz Centres, the members of the Senate are representatives of Federal and Länder government, as well as representatives of science and research, business and industry, and other research organisations. The Senate commissions the evaluation of research programmes by independent, internationally-acknowledged experts and receives their review reports. These evaluations serve as a basis for the funding recommendations which the Senate makes to the association's financial sponsors i.e. Federal and Länder government on how much support funding the individual research programmes and core topic areas will receive.
Staff at the Helmholtz Offices in Berlin and Bonn support the President in the duties he performs for the members of the association. The Brussels Office ensures that Helmholtz is represented in the European Union's decision-making centre and, together with the offices in Moscow and Beijing, supports the Helmholtz Centres in their endeavours to contribute more strongly to European and international research projects by introducing their great potential.