Make sense of... starting an association

The French equivalent of a ‘charity’ is an association reconnue d’utilité publique or an association d’intérêt général. The first is a status held by certain large organisations like the SPA animal charity or La Croix Rouge and which has to be applied for from the Interior Ministry. The latter is simpler and is the most common kind of structure. It is easy to set up and later it can apply to become reconnue d’utilité publique, which brings extra benefits and obligations, if it has more than 200 members and more than merely ‘local’ activities.

There are thought to be more than a million associations in France, many of which are set up to promote ‘good causes.’

Associations are also sometimes called associations loi 1901 after a law in that year which defined the rules governing them.

They are also sometimes referred to as being à but non lucratif (non-profit-making) however, legally-speaking, this applies to all of them because an association may not share out any profits among members as a company can.

An association is created by at least two people who get together to agree to run a group for a certain purpose or activity and, if it is declared at the prefecture, it becomes a legal entity in its own right. The founders must agree on where it will be ...

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