DGMT NGO Commons - A Resource for Enhancing Good Governance and Accountability

A Resource for Enhancing Good Governance and Accountability

Establishing a Voluntary Association

A voluntary association is formed by three or more people who agree (either verbally or in writing) to achieve a common objective, without making a profit.   Voluntary Associations are, therefore,

  • usually formed by small and informal community groups (individuals, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations), and are regulated by Common Law;
  • generally have open membership;
  • are managed from within, by general members or a management/steering committee, according to a Constitution which is drawn up by members.

Note: Voluntary Associations must meet three legal requirements:

  • be able to demonstrate perpetual succession (be able to continue even if there is a change in membership);
  • be able to hold property distinct from its members;
  • declare that no member may have any rights to the property of the association.

By far, the vast majority of NGOs in South Africa are established as Voluntary Associations.