As the membership of a communist party was to be limited to active cadres, there was a need for networks of separate organizations to mobilize mass support for the party. Typically communist parties have built up various front organizations, whose membership is often open to non-communists. In many countries the single most important front organization of the communist parties has been its youth wing. During the time of the Communist International the youth leagues were explicit communist organizations, using the name 'Young Communist League'. Later the youth league concept was broadened in many countries, and names like 'Democratic Youth League' were adopted.
Other organizations often connected to communist parties includes trade unions, student, women's, peasant's and cultural organizations. Traditionally these mass organizations were politically subordinated to the political leadership of the party. However, in many contemporary cases mass organizations founded by communists have acquired a certain degree of independence. In some cases mass organizations have outlived the communist parties in question.
At the international level, the Communist International organized various international front organizations (linking national mass organizations with each other), such as the Young Communist International, Profintern, Krestintern, International Red Aid, Sportintern, etc.. These organizations were dissolved in the process of deconstruction of the Communist International. After the Second World War new international coordination bodies were created, such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth, International Union of Students, World Federation of Trade Unions, Women's International Democratic Federation and the World Peace Council.
Historically, in countries where Communist Parties were struggling to attain state power, the formation of wartime alliances with non-communist parties and wartime groups was enacted (such as the National Liberation Front of Albania). Upon attaining state power these Fronts were often transformed into nominal (and usually electoral) "National" or "Fatherland" Fronts in which non-communist parties and organizations were given token representation (a practice known as Blockpartei), the most popular examples of these being the National Front of East Germany (as a historical example) and the United Front of the People's Republic of China (as a modern-day example). Other times the formation of such Fronts were undertaken without the participation of other parties, such as the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia and the National Front of Afghanistan, though the purpose was the same: to promote the Communist Party line to generally non-communist audiences and to mobilize them to carry out tasks within the country under the aegis of the Front.
A uniform naming scheme for communist parties was adopted by the Communist International. All parties were required to use the name 'Communist Party of (name of country)'. Today, there are plenty of cases where the old sections of the Communist International have retained those names. In other cases names have been changed. Common causes for the shift in naming were either moves to avoid state repression or as measures to indicate a broader political acceptance.
A typical example of the latter was the renamings of various East European communist parties after the Second World War, as staged 'mergers' of the local Social Democratic parties occurred. New names in the post-war era included 'Socialist Party', 'Socialist Unity Party', 'Popular Party', 'Workers Party' and 'Party of Labour'.
The naming conventions of communist parties became more diverse as the international communist movement was fragmented due to the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s. Those who sided with China and/or Albania in their criticism of the Soviet leadership, often added words like 'Revolutionary' or 'Marxist-Leninist' to distinguish themselves from the pro-Soviet parties.