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501c Organizations

Structuring Your 501(c) Nonprofit Organization

At CharityNet USA we understand that your mission is to help others. We have served
over 30,000 customers for more than 15 years, and we know from experience
that every organization has its own needs and priorities.

Everything You Need to Know as a 501(c) Organization

We’re here to guide nonprofits in understanding the different types of 501(c) organizations, whether it’s for your 501c3 designation or if you’re seeking a different 501c status, so that you can find the one which best suits your needs.

Choosing an organizational structure is one of the earliest decisions you will make as you design your nonprofit, and it is important you choose the right one so that you can take full advantage of the relevant federal tax benefits.

Two men laughing and enjoying their work at a 501c nonprofit Descriptive

From Start to Finish

CharityNet USA will be your professional guide through the entire process of structuring and launching your 501(c) organization, from start to finish.

We help you build up the 3 key pillars of success:

Startup

Strategic planning, organization, and launch

Growth

Fundraising, sponsorships, grants, capacity building

Sustainability

Administration, accounting, compliance

Our nonprofit solutions will help you succeed in each of these areas.

Proven Nonprofit Success Stories

Since 2004 we have served nonprofits around the country.
Here are a few of our success stories:

Getting Started: What Is a 501(c) Organization?

A 501(c) organization is a nonprofit organization that is exempt from some federal taxes. The name comes from the fact that this type of organization is defined under Section 501(c) of Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

The most common 501(c) organizations we collaborate with are:

501(c)(3)

Charitable organizations, nonprofit corporations, associations, and groups that promote the common good.

Examples:

American Red Cross, United Way, The ALS Association, The Sierra Club Foundation

501(c)(4)

Civic organizations or neighborhood associations that promote the common good and have the ability to lobby in political efforts.

Examples:

American Civil Liberties Union, AARP

501(c)(5)

Labor, agricultural, and horticultural associations that focus on educating the public about improving production efficiency and working conditions. This often includes labor unions, state or county fairs, and agricultural interest groups.

Examples:

National Potato Council, AFL-CIO

501(c)(6)

Membership-based organizations, and associations of people who share a common business interest or want to improve business conditions. This often includes professional societies.

Examples:

Better Business Bureau, American Dental Association

501(c)(7)

Social and recreational clubs, such as fraternities, hobby organizations, and country clubs.

Examples:

Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity

501(c)(8)

Fraternal societies and orders. These associations may pay various benefits to their members, such as life insurance.

Examples:

Elks USA

Are You a 501(c)(3) Organization?

Your nonprofit might be a good fit for a 501(c)(3) if your primary mission is dedicated to:

Charity

Education

Science

Literature & Art

Religion

Protecting Children or Animals

Full 501(c) Organizations List

There are more 501(c) designations your organization may fall under, and we’re available to help you determine what would work best for you.

If your existing nonprofit falls under any of the lesser-common types outside of 501(c)(3), please get in touch with us to learn how we can help your business thrive.

501(c)(1): Corporations organized under an Act of Congress, such as federal credit unions.
501(c)(9):  Associations that pay benefits to employees and their families, such as accident or life insurance payments.
501(c)(12): Mutual power or telephone companies, mutual ditch or irrigation companies, local benevolent life insurance associations.
501(c)(15): Small financial organizations, usually local, usually centered around property damage or funereal costs.
501(c)(19): Veterans’ organizations. A relatively common type of 501(c) organization.
501(c)(26): State-sponsored high-risk health coverage insurance pools.
501(c)(2): Corporations that hold property titles owned by another nonprofit.
501(c)(10): Similar to fraternal societies mentioned earlier—501(c)(8)—but do not pay benefits.
501(c)(13): Nonprofit cemeteries and crematoria.
501(c)(16): Corporations organized by a registered Section 521 farmers’ cooperative to finance crop operations.
501(c)(20): Black lung trust benefits for miners.
501(c)(27): Grandfathered state-sponsored workers’ compensation reinsurance organizations.
501(c)(3) – (501(c)(8): The most common 501(c) types CharityNet works with.
501(c)(11): Associations that manage retirement funds for teachers.
501(c)(14): State-chartered credit unions and mutual reserve funds, similar to 501(c)(1) above but state-chartered & limited to financial organizations.
501(c)(17): Trusts dedicated to providing supplemental unemployment benefits.
501(c)(25): Title-holding trusts or corporations with multiple parent nonprofit organizations. Similar to 501(c)(2).
501(c)(28): Applies to the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust.
501(c)(29)Qualified nonprofit health co-op insurance issuers under the Affordable Care Act
If one of these types of 501(c) designations is right for you, we can help you find out which one.

Why Choose a 501(c)(3) Designation For Your Nonprofit

A 501(c) organization is a type of nonprofit organization that enjoys tax-exempt status for some federal taxes and where donations are tax-deductible for donors. The name comes from the relevant federal law: Section 501(c) of Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

Get help with 501(c)(3) determination from our team of nonprofit experts. 

We’ll guide you to the correct nonprofit classification and help you from the ground up.

Types of 501(c)(3) Organizations

Public Charity: This is the most common type. It conducts actual operations in pursuit of its mission. It typically collects donations from the public, or applies for grants or sponsorships.

Private Foundation: A private foundation doesn’t conduct its own operations. Instead, it gives money to other organizations so that they can do the work. Private foundations are often funded privately, typically by a business, family, or individual.

Private Operating Foundation: This is a private foundation that conducts its own operations, like a public charity. However, it is still financed privately.

501(c)(3) Organization Overview

Charitable Organizations

In a broad sense, nearly all types of 501(c)(3) organizations are considered “charitable” in nature. At BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions, many of our clients seeking help with 501(c)(3) applications find that this designation is the one best-suited for them. A few examples include:
  • Organizations serving public health, such as hospitals and clinics.
  • Organizations helping people maintain access to their civil liberties, such as by combating discrimintion.
  • Organizations helping people in poverty, including on issues such as hunger and housing.
  • Organizations that improve public access to green spaces and nature.
charitable 501c3 organization team donating pallets of food
Young girl writing on a chalkboard at an educational nonprofit

Educational Organizations

Educational types of 501(c)(3) organizations are required to provide instruction either to the public for the purpose of improving communities, or to individuals for the purpose of expanding their skills.

Educational 501(c)(3) nonprofits may include:

  • Schools, colleges, and trade schools providing generalized or specialized education in core disciplines.
  • Museums, libraries, zoos, and orchestras that provide the public with access to information about, or experiences involving, the arts, sciences, and history.
  • Organizations that promote public education through forums, lectures, and discussion panels.

Scientific Organizations

These types of 501(c)(3) organizations conduct scientific research in the public’s interest. This could involve research into specific challenges facing the public, such as disease or pollution, or research that may yield beneficial applications in the future. This condition is fairly easy to meet, as most research has a potential benefit to the public.

Additionally, the results of the research must be publicly available and cannot be withheld from public use behind intellectual property claims.

Literary Organizations

Literary associations are a type of 501(c)(3) organization that tend to be limited to nonprofit bookstores and publishing houses. Nonprofit bookstores often provide access to specialized or hard-to-find materials that are not necessarily profitable to stock on shelves but are potentially of benefit to the public, while nonprofit publishers provide the means for these important materials to be published in the first place.

Public universities, religious organizations, and other types of nonprofits often have their own nonprofit bookstore. Private companies can also have a publishing house or bookstore that they run as a nonprofit.

Religious Organizations

Religious organizations are one of the most common types of 501(c)(3) organizations. The tax benefits are an important aid for houses of worship to survive on a limited income, and the law endorses the potential value that these organizations offer the public.

In addition to houses of worship such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples, other religious 501(c)(3) nonprofits include:

  • Missionary organizations and ministries.
  • Schools such as seminaries and yeshivot that provide religious education to future religious leaders.
  • Associations, leagues, or conventions of religious organizations, such as interfaith councils and denominational associations.

National or International Amateur Sport Organizations

These types of 501(c)(3) organizations most commonly apply to organizations that help prepare athletes for culturally significant sports competitions, such as the Olympics. This help can include training, financial support, and related needs such as healthcare and housing.

To help with 501(c)(3) status, organizations like these should be able to show that they are specifically working toward promoting amateur sports by grooming outstanding athletes, as opposed to providing sports training or assistance to the general public.

Public Safety & Testing Organizations

These types of 501(c)(3) organizations serve the public interest by specifically performing some manner of safety testing on finished materials, products, ingredients, or other components.

Child & Animal Welfare Organizations

This 501(c)(3) classification is intended to cover organizations that promote the welfare and safety of children and animals. Qualifying nonprofits include:
  • Orphanages, youth centers, and after school clubs.
  • Animal shelters and pet rescues.
  • Organizations that help preserve endangered species and vulnerable habitats.

Discover Other 501(c) Classifications

If none of these types of 501(c)(3) organizations, you should look at other of 501(c) classiciations.