Civil Association – Concept, objectives, requirements and examples

We explain what a civil association is, its objectives, legal requirements and examples. Also, how is it different from civil society?

civil association
Civil associations are a form of private organization with altruistic purposes.

What is a civil association?

It’s called a civil association to an organization with legal personality (of private law) and non-profit, whose efforts pursue cultural, educational, sports, informative or similar purposes. Its existence depends on the donations of its associate members, represented in a General Assembly.

In other words, civil associations are a form of private organization with altruistic purposes, which respond to their own statutes (included, in writing, in a constitutive document) and are managed autonomously, although they are subject, like any other organization, according to the law.

These types of associations are common today and are important to enable the organization of private charitable initiatives without the intermediation or direct control of the State, which allows not only greater bureaucratic agility, but also higher margins of commitment on the part of the associates and, in the long run, greater effectiveness in the fulfillment of their solidarity objectives.

Like many other legal aspects, the norms and requirements of a civil association vary depending on the legal framework of each country, although in general they are required to:

  • That they gather a minimum of formal associates.
  • That they have an act of creation and statutes approved by the public administration.
  • That its internal functioning is governed by democratic and legal principles.
  • That there is a formal accounting available for any type of audit.

Civil association and civil society

It is not advisable to confuse a civil association with a civil society. This last term has a very distant meaning, typical of political science: civil society is the set of civilian forces in society. In addition, in many legal areas, unlike civil associations, which are not for profit, civil societies are those that have economic purposes.

This distinction may be less clear than it might seem, in cases where a charitable activity can be, at the same time, profitable or capitalizable, but it is important when paying tribute to the State. In a very broad sense, both civil societies and civil associations pursue altruistic ends, but the former do so with a commercial interest, while the latter will reinvest their earnings in the association itself.

Examples of civil associations

The following are examples of civil associations:

  • Civil Association for Equality and Justice (Argentina).
  • Mexican Association for the right to information.
  • PRISMA Charitable Association (Peru).
  • Consciencia Civil Association (Argentina).
  • Atlatl Project (Mexico).
  • SI Television Editions Association (Spain).
  • United States Association for International Migration (United States).