An unincorporated association is the least formal structure available to a non-profit organization. Generally, an unincorporated association is not involved in doing any business, but rather is united under a local community interest. For example, a volunteer organization that collects arts and crafts supplies for local elementary schools facing budget cuts and either receives the donations directly from the retailer or makes purchases with the proceeds from an annual spaghetti feed fundraising event, would probably remain an unincorporated association rather than choose to go through the process of incorporating.
An unincorporated association is exposed to more personal legal liability for the organizers, but is likely a low liability risk to begin with. An unincorporated association can purchase an insurance policy to address some of these concerns. An unincorporated association must register their name with their state’s Secretary of State office. For a registration in California, click here.