A voluntary group or union (also sometimes called a voluntary organization, common-interest association,:266 association, or society) is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement, usually as
Membership is not necessarily voluntary: in order for particular associations to function correctly they might need to be mandatory or at least strongly encouraged, as is common with many
Voluntary associations may be incorporated or unincorporated; for example, in the US, unions gained additional powers by incorporating. In the UK, the terms Voluntary Association or Voluntary Organisation cover every type of group from a small local Residents' Association to large Associations (often
Some jurisdictions require that the association register with the police or other official body to inform the public of the association's existence. This could be a tool of political control or intimidation, and also a way of protecting the economy from
In many such jurisdictions, only a registered association (or in the UK an incorporated body) is a
There are many countries where the formation of truly independent Voluntary Associations is effectively proscribed by law or where they are theoretically legally permitted, but in practice are persecuted; for example, where membership brings unwelcome attention from police or other state agencies.