Association or Organization – Which Word Is Correct?

People often get confused about the words “association” and “organization.” In fact, many people use these two words interchangeably. However, these are two different things with different meanings. In this post, we’ll clear up the confusion and help you choose correctly between association or organization.

Is It An Association or Organization?

Man thinking if she shoud say association or organization

Although these terms are very similar, they have different meanings.

  • Organizations: Entity comprised of people and employees to achieve a mutual goal. It is created for a specific purpose, such as making money or providing services.
  • Associations: Membership groups consisting of people with similar interests, jobs, or beliefs. They exist to further the interests of a particular idea, industry, or profession.

Takeaway: While both organizations and associations can have similar goals, they are NOT the same.

When To Use Association

An association is a membership organization of people with similar interests or jobs. The primary purpose of an association is to further the common goal of its members.

Associations are typically organized around a specific:

  • Industry
  • Profession
  • Interest group

There are professional associations for just about every industry. For example, there are associations for:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Teachers
  • Real Estate Agents

But they aren’t just about specific jobs and professional industries. Most associations were actually created for hobbies and interests.

  • National Rifle Association
  • American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The benefits of associations go beyond just promoting the common interests of its members. It can also provide educational resources, networking opportunities, and advocacy support for its membership. And if you can’t seem to memorize when to use association vs organization, then use our FREE Sentence Checker.

When To use Organization

An organization is an entity that is focused on working to meet objectives. A professional organization is different from an association, which is a body focused on the interests of its members instead of work.

There are many different types of organizations:

  • For Profit
  • Nonprofit
  • Charity

They can also be large or small, formal or informal. There really is no one-size-fits-all definition of an organization.

Takeaway: An organization is an entity that uses the coordinated efforts of its members to accomplish a goal.

Different Types of Associations

There are three different types of associations.

  • Member-benefit professional associations: focus primarily on benefiting their individual members. This is accomplished in a number of ways, the most common of which are providing networking opportunities, offering educational resources, and advocating on behalf of the profession.
  • Designation-granting associations: Offer a certification for members to show their dedication to the field. The designation is typically granted after the completion of an educational program and/or a certain number of years of experience in the field.
  • Certifying bodies: Issue credentials to their members once they meet set requirements. There are many different certifying bodies out there, each with its own specific requirements. This is usually an industry-specific association. Some of the more well-known certifying bodies include the American Medical Association, the National Board of Medical Examiners, and the American Nurses Association. Each of these organizations has different standards that must be met in order to be certified.
  • Professional regulatory bodies: This type of professional association works by developing and maintaining expectations of the industry for the protection of the public. They typically have a code of conduct that members must adhere to and may also offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities.

Organizational Levels

There are three main levels that comprise an organization.

  • Line Organization: Considered to be a typical hierarchical organization, there is a clear line of authority running from the top of the organization to the bottom. This line of authority dictates how decisions are made and how work is carried out. Line organizations are very efficient in that they provide clear lines of communication and responsibility.
  • Functional Organization: Type of business structure in which people are grouped together with similar knowledge and skills. This can be helpful for businesses because it allows employees to specialize in their area of expertise and work more efficiently. However, it can also lead to silos within the organization, where different departments or teams become isolated from each other.
  • Matrix Organization: A matrix organization is a type of organizational structure in which individuals are grouped both by functional department and by product, project, or geographic region. This type of organization works well with large-scale projects that require input from different functional departments. Each individual reports to both a functional manager and a project manager.

Examples of Associations

Here are some examples of well-known associations. These associations are led by their board members and operate for a particular purpose. Each board member works in defined roles to accomplish a common goal.

  • The American Kennel Club (AKC) – A leading canine association that promotes responsible dog ownership and breed preservation.
  • The Audubon Society is a nonprofit – Professional association dedicated to conserving natural ecosystems, with a particular focus on birds and other wildlife.
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – The governing body behind the Oscars, responsible for recognizing excellence in the film industry.

You can think of associations as a support network for like-minded people.

Examples of Organizations

Here are three examples of popular organizations.

World Trade Organization – International institution that regulates and facilitates international trade. The organization’s headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it has over 160 member countries.

World Health Organization – Responsible for international public health. Its main goal is to protect the health of all people by providing leadership on public health issues and coordinating the efforts of member states.

United Nations – World body formed for the purpose of maintaining international peace and security.

Business vs Association

Like a business, an association is a group of people working together for a common goal. However, they are not the same thing. For one, there are no owners of an association. The leadership structure of an association is comprised of its members.

Additionally, associations are typically non-profit organizations, while businesses are typically for-profit.

FAQs – Association or Organization

Q: What is difference between association and organisation?

An association is a group of people who share common interests, while an organization is a structured group with a defined hierarchy. A professional organization has structured roles and functions.

Q: What is the example of association?

An example of an association is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Also called, ASME, this association is a group of people that formed over their common interests in engineering. It serves as a networking opportunity and a chance to learn more about the engineering industry. Nonprofit associations like ASME are also tax exempt. These types of associations receive tax exemption because they serve to give back and do not operate purely for profit.

Q: What is definition of an association?

Professional associations are groups of people who have joined together for a common purpose. This could be anything from a professional association to a social club. Associations typically have their own rules and regulations, and they may even charge membership fees.

Q: What are 3 reasons for professional organizations?

Professional organizations serve a variety of purposes for their members. For many, it is a way to build a professional network. Others see it as a way to stay current in their field and explore new career opportunities. Still, others view it as a way to give back to their profession and support the next generation of professionals.

The Bottom Line

Now you know the difference between these two commonly confused words. Although these two words seem like the same thing, they have different meanings. Use these teachings to correctly choose between association or organization in your writing!