Difference Between Association and Organization

Association vs Organization

We come across myriad organizations in our lives and sometimes it becomes confusing to differentiate between them on the basis of their nature, scope and purpose. One such type of organization is association. We know that there are various types of associations like PETA, sports associations, blind association, alumni associations and so on, but what is it that separates associations from organizations.


As the name implies, an association is a type of organization where people having common interests come together on a platform. Association is also a word (noun) that is freely used in daily conversation where we describe the association of friends. It is a body which is a group of persons that comes together to promote some idea, sport, or object. Association is a very broad word that incorporates all types of alliances, leagues, cooperatives, conventions, gilds, clubs, fellowships, unions, and conferences where like minded people associate for a common cause or interest.

When we talk about an institute, we are concerned with an association organized to promote art or science or education in general. ASEAN is an association of nations dedicated to economic and political cooperation in South East Asia. All types of alliances and leagues are in a way associations. We hear a lot about chamber of commerce. It is actually an association of businessmen to protect and promote business interests. There are professional associations that are joined by practitioners of a particular profession such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, etc.


Organizations are bodies of persons formed for a particular purpose. This definition implies that associations are also organizations. There are various entities like corporations, governments, non governmental organizations, international organizations, charities, foundations, and even universities. The word organization has different meanings in different contexts such as business, sociology, religion etc. There are world bodies like UN and WHO that are organizations and there are small businesses like partnerships that are also organizations. Organizations are typical in that they have a definite structure and roles and functions of office holders. For management, an organization is an instrument to achieve a goal.

In brief:

Difference Between Association and Organization

• Organization is a structure of people with well defined roles and functions whereas an association is a group of people with common interests

• Organization can be any entity from a small business to a world body whereas an association is a collection of people forming an alliance for a particular purpose

• WHO and UN are examples of organizations whereas NATO and ASDEAN are examples of associations.