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Structuring Your Nonprofit: Types of 501(c)(3) Organizations​

Helping you launch your nonprofit successfully.
Keeping your organization healthy for years to come.

At BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions we support your mission to help others by offering support for your nonprofit. From start to finish, we have the resources and expertise to get your nonprofit off the ground and help it prosper, grow, and become sustainable for the long-term.

One of the first decisions you face when creating a new nonprofit organization is determining which tax-exemption status to apply for. There are many types of 501(c)(3) organizations, so we are here to lay it out for you in an easy way and get you started down the right path.

A Track Record of Helping Nonprofit Business Like Yours

We have served more than 30,000 customers for over 15 years, and we know from experience that every nonprofit is different. But we also know that all types of 501(c)(3) organizations are ultimately built on the same 3 key pillars of success:

Startup

Building an organization, developing a strategic plan, and launching effectively

Growth

Scalability, fundraising optimally, discovering corporate sponsorships, marketing,
sourcing and applying for grants

Sustainability

Administrative, bookkeeping, and legal compliance practices that stand up to IRS scrutiny and the high standards expected of a nonprofit.

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

Developing Thriving Nonprofits: Success Stories

Since 2004, BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions has helped nonprofits all across America:

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 discrimination.
  • 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.

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