Swami Vivekananda registered the Ramakrishna Math as a trust in 1901. To facilitate the work of Ramakrishna Mission Association started by Swami Vivekananda in May 1897, shortly after his return from the West, and for giving it a legal status, a society named the Ramakrishna Mission was registered in 1909 under Act XXI of 1860. Its management was vested in a Governing Body. Hence, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission with their respective branches are distinct legal entities though they are closely related, inasmuch as the Governing Body of the Mission is mostly in the hands of the monks of Ramakrishna Math and both have their headquarters at Belur Math. The Math organization is constituted under a trust with well-defined rules of procedure. The Mission is registered society. Though both the organizations take up charitable and philanthropic activities, the former less emphasis on religion and preaching, while the latter conducts mainly welfare services undertaken with a spiritual outlook.
It is necessary to point out that the appropriation of the name of Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda by any institution does not necessarily imply that it is a branch of either Ramakrishna Math or Ramakrishna Mission.
The Math and Mission own separate funds and keep separate accounts of them. Qualified auditors annually audit the accounts of both the Math and the Mission.