Like many European countries, Belgian law allows for two basic forms of non-profit organisations, the association and the foundation. Associations can take a number of legal forms: the non-profit association (in French: ASBL or in Flemish: VZW) and the international non-profit association, (in French AISBL or in Flemish: IVZW). Charitable activities can also be exercised through a de facto association (association de fait/feitelijkevereniging); this type of organization is not incorporated and has no legal personality.
The foundation is the result of a legal act from individuals or entities that assign assets to a non-profit objective, and it has no members. The public benefit foundation has to utilise its financial resources for educational, cultural, religious, social or other public benefit purposes. The private foundation, which has been introduced by a recent law, is not required to serve the general interest; it may also pursue private purposes, such as estate planning. Beside these forms, Belgian legislation has also created a hybrid entity, the social purpose company, which can be considered as an alternative to non-profit associations. Unlike these associations, a social purpose company may perform a commercial activity, but this activity should be carried out in a non-profit context.