Thursday, April 22, 2010
A friendly society (sometimes called a mutual society, benevolent society or fraternal organization) is a mutual association for insurance, pensions or savings and loan-like purposes, or cooperative banking. Some friendly societies, especially in the past, served ceremonial and friendship purposes also, while others did not. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose. Before modern insurance, and the welfare state, friendly societies provided financial and social services to individuals, often according to their religious or political affiliations.
Before large-scale government and employer health insurance and the development of other financial services, friendly societies played an important part in many people's lives. In some countries, half the population was covered by such societies.