Lake associations are voluntary groups, and include unincorporated associations, qualified lake associations (incorporated associations), and nonprofit corporations. Lake associations can form without any formal requirements, although many incorporate under Chapter 181 of the Wisconsin Statutes to be eligible for state cost sharing grants.
Associations have no powers over lake community residents; membership and dues are voluntary. A voluntary association can have genuine advantages over a lake district because they may be able to act more quickly than governmental bodies on some issues. Some folks may be more willing to support a voluntary organization rather than forming a new unit of government, particularly one with taxing power. However, if your lake management goals are ambitious, the more stable funding of a lake district may be essential. On the other hand, voluntary lake associations are sometimes frustrated by low participation and monetary support.
To be eligible for state lake planning, protection, and recreational boating facilities grants, a lake association must be "qualified," which includes being incorporated and meeting other standards.