501(c)(3) organization

A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the US.

501(c)(3) tax-exemptions apply to entities that are organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, for testing for public safety, to foster national or international amateur sports competition, for the prevention of cruelty to children, women, or animals. 501(c)(3) exemption applies also for any non-incorporated community chest, fund, cooperating association or foundation organized and operated exclusively for those purposes.[1][2] There are also supporting organizations—often referred to in shorthand form as "Friends of" organizations.[3][4][5][6][7]

26 U.S.C. § 170 provides a deduction for federal income tax purposes, for some donors who make charitable contributions to most types of 501(c)(3) organizations, among others. Regulations specify which such deductions must be verifiable to be allowed (e.g., receipts for donations of $250 or more).

Due to the tax deductions associated with donations, loss of 501(c)(3) status can be highly challenging if not fatal to a charity's continued operation, as many foundations and corporate matching funds do not grant funds to a charity without such status, and individual donors often do not donate to such a charity due to the unavailability of the deduction.


The two exempt classifications of 501(c)(3) organizations are as follows:[8]

  • A public charity, identified by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as "not a private foundation", normally receives a substantial part of its income, directly or indirectly, from the general public or from the government. The public support must be fairly broad, not limited to a few individuals or families. Public charities are defined in the Internal Revenue Code under sections 509(a)(1) through 509(a)(4).
  • A private foundation, sometimes called a non-operating foundation, receives most of its income from investments and endowments. This income is used to make grants to other organizations, rather than being disbursed directly for charitable activities. Private foundations are defined in the Internal Revenue Code under section 509(a) as 501(c)(3) organizations, which do not qualify as public charities.

Obtaining status

The basic requirement of obtaining tax-exempt status is that the organization is specifically limited in powers to purposes that the IRS classifies as tax-exempt purposes. Unlike for-profit corporations that benefit from broad and general purposes, non-profit organizations need to be limited in powers to function with tax-exempt status, but a non-profit corporation is by default not limited in powers until it specifically limits itself in the articles of incorporation or nonprofit corporate bylaws. This limiting of the powers is crucial to obtaining tax exempt status with the IRS and then on the state level.[9] Organizations acquire 501(c)(3) tax exemption by filing IRS Form 1023.[10] As of 2006 the form must be accompanied by a $850 filing fee if the yearly gross receipts for the organization are expected to average $10,000 or more.[11][12] If yearly gross receipts are expected to average less than $10,000, the filing fee is reduced to $400.[11][12] There are some classes of organizations that automatically are treated as tax exempt under 501(c)(3), without the need to file Form 1023:

  • Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches. A convention or association of churches generally refers to the organizational structure of congregational churches.[13] A convention or association of churches can also refer to a cooperative undertaking of churches of various denominations that works together to perform religious activities.[14][15]
  • Organizations that are not private foundations and that have gross receipts that normally are not more than $5,000[16]

The IRS released a software tool called Cyber Assistant in 2013, which was succeeded by Form 1023-EZ in 2014.

There is an alternative way for an organization to obtain status if an organization has applied for a determination and either there is an actual controversy regarding a determination or the Internal Revenue Service has failed to make a determination. In these cases, the United States Tax Court, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the United States Court of Federal Claims have concurrent jurisdiction to issue a declaratory judgment of the organization's qualification if the organization has exhausted administrative remedies with the Internal Revenue Service.[17][18]

Prior to October 9, 1969, nonprofit organizations could declare themselves to be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) without first obtaining Internal Revenue Service recognition by filing Form 1023 and receiving a determination letter.[19] A nonprofit organization that did so prior to that date could still be subject to challenge of its status by the Internal Revenue Service.[19]

Tax-deductible charitable contributions

Individual may take a tax deduction on a charitable gift to a 501(c)(3) organization that is organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.[20]

An individual may not take a tax deduction on gifts made to a 501(c)(3) organization that is organized and operated exclusively for the testing for public safety.[21]

In the case of tuition fees paid to a private 501(c)(3) school or a church school, the payments are not tax-deductible charitable contributions because they are payments for services rendered to the payee or the payee's children.[22][23][24] The payments are not tax-deductible charitable contributions even if a significant portion of a church school's curriculum is religious education.[25][26] In order for a payment to be a tax-deductible charitable contribution, the payment must be a voluntary transfer of money or other property that is made with no expectation of procuring a financial benefit equal to the amount of the transfer.[27]

Before donating to a 501(c)(3) organization, a donor may wish to consult the searchable online IRS list of charitable organizations in order to verify that the organization qualifies to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.[28]

Consumers may file IRS Form 13909 with documentation in order to complain about inappropriate or fraudulent (i.e., fundraising, political campaigning, lobbying) activities by any 501(c)(3) organization.[29]

Most 501(c)(3) must disclose the names and addresses of certain large donors to the Internal Revenue Service on their annual returns, but this information is not required to be made available to the public,[30] unless the organization is a private foundation.[31] Churches are generally exempt from this reporting requirement.[32]


All 501(c)(3) organizations must make available for public inspection its application for tax-exemption, including its Form 1023 or Form 1023-EZ and any attachments, supporting documents, and follow-up correspondence with the Internal Revenue Service.[33] The same public inspection requirement applies to the organization's annual return, namely its Form 990, Form 990-EZ, Form 990-PF, Form 990-T, and Form 1065, including any attachments, supporting documents, and follow-up correspondence with the Internal Revenue Service, with the exception of the names and addresses of donors on Schedule B.[33][34] Annual returns must be made publicly available for a three-year period beginning with the due date of the return including any extension of time for filing.[33][34]

The Internal Revenue Service provides information about specific 501(c)(3) organizations through its Tax Exempt Organization Search online.[35][36]

A private nonprofit organization, GuideStar, provides information on 501(c)(3) organizations.[37][38]

ProPublica's Nonprofit Explorer provides copies of each organization's Form 990 and, for some organizations, audited financial statements.[39]

Open990 is a searchable database of information about organizations over time.[40]

Limitations on political activity

Section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from supporting political candidates, as a result of the Johnson Amendment enacted in 1954.[41] Section 501(c)(3) organizations are subject to limits on lobbying, having a choice between two sets of rules establishing an upper bound for their lobbying activities. Section 501(c)(3) organizations risk loss of their tax-exempt status if these rules are violated.[42][43] An organization that loses its 501(c)(3) status due to being engaged in political activities cannot subsequently qualify for 501(c)(4) status.[44]


Churches must meet specific requirements in order to obtain and maintain tax-exempt status; these are outlined in "IRS Publication 1828: Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations".[45] This guide outlines activities allowed and not allowed by churches under the 501(c)(3) designation.[45]

In 1980, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia recognized a 14-part test in determining whether a religious organization is considered a church for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code.

  1. A distinct legal entity;
  2. A recognized creed and form of worship;
  3. A definite and distinct ecclesiastical government;
  4. A formal code of doctrine and discipline;
  5. A distinct religious history;
  6. A membership not associated with any other church or denomination;
  7. A complete organization of ordained ministers ministering to their congregations;
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completed prescribed courses of study;
  9. Literature of its own;
  10. Established places of worship;
  11. Regular congregations;
  12. Regular religious services;
  13. Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young;
  14. Schools for the preparation of its ministers.

Having an established congregation served by an organized ministry is of central importance.[46] Points 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, and 13 are also especially important. Nevertheless, the 14-point list is a guideline, it is not intended to be all-encompassing, and other relevant facts and circumstances may be factors.[46] Although there is no definitive definition of a church for Internal Revenue Code purposes, in 1986 the United States Tax Court said that "A church is a coherent group of individuals and families that join together to accomplish the religious purposes of mutually held beliefs. In other words, a church's principal means of accomplishing its religious purposes must be to assemble regularly a group of individuals related by common worship and faith."[47][48] The United States Tax Court has stated that, while a church can certainly broadcast its religious services by radio, radio broadcasts themselves do not constitute a congregation unless there is a group of people physically attending those religious services.[49] A church can conduct worship services in various specific locations rather than in one official location.[50] A church may have a significant number of people associate themselves with the church on a regular basis, even if the church does not have a traditional established list of individual members.[50]

In order to qualify as a tax-exempt church, church activities must be a significant part of the organization's operations.[51][52]

An organization whose operations include a substantial nonexempt commercial purposes, such as operating restaurants and grocery stores in a manner consistent with a particular religion's religious beliefs does not qualify as a tax-exempt church.[53]

Political campaign activities

Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office.[54] The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates on this prohibition:[54]

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.


Since section 501(c)(3)'s political-activity prohibition was enacted, "commentators and litigants have challenged the provision on numerous constitutional grounds," such as freedom of speech, vagueness, and equal protection and selective prosecution.[55] Historically, Supreme Court decisions, such as Regan v. Taxation with Representation of Washington, suggested that the Court, if it were to squarely examine the political-activity prohibition of § 501(c)(3), would uphold it against a constitutional challenge.[55] However, some have suggested that a successful challenge to the political activities prohibition of Section 501(c)(3) might be more plausible in light of Citizens United v. FEC.[56]


In contrast to the prohibition on political campaign interventions by all section 501(c)(3) organizations, public charities (but not private foundations) may conduct a limited amount of lobbying to influence legislation. Although the law states that "No substantial part..." of a public charity's activities can go to lobbying, charities with large budgets may lawfully expend a million dollars (under the "expenditure" test), or more (under the "substantial part" test) per year on lobbying.[57]

The Internal Revenue Service has never defined the term "substantial part" with respect to lobbying.[58]

In order to establish a safe harbor for the "substantial part" test, the United States Congress enacted §501(h), called the Conable election after its author, Representative Barber Conable. The section establishes limits based on operating budget that a charity can use to determine if it meets the substantial test. This changes the prohibition against direct intervention in partisan contests only for lobbying. The organization is now presumed in compliance with the substantiality test if they work within the limits. The Conable election requires a charity to file a declaration with the IRS and file a functional distribution of funds spreadsheet with their Form 990. IRS form 5768 is required to make the Conable election.[59]

Foreign activities

A 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to conduct some or all of its charitable activities outside the United States.[60][61] A 501(c)(3) organization is allowed to award grants to foreign charitable organizations if the grants are intended for charitable purposes and the grant funds are subject to the 501(c)(3) organization's control.[62] Additional procedures are required of 501(c)(3) organizations that are private foundations.[61][63]

Allowance of tax-deduction by donors

Donors' contributions to a 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible only if the contribution is for the use of the 501(c)(3) organization, and that the 501(c)(3) organization is not merely serving as an agent or conduit of a foreign charitable organization.[62] The 501(c)(3) organization's management should review the grant application from the foreign organization, decide whether to award the grant based on the intended use of the funds, and require continuous oversight based on the use of funds.[62]

If the donor imposes a restriction or earmark that the contribution must be used for foreign activities, then the contribution is deemed to be for the foreign organization rather than the 501(c)(3) organization, and the contribution is not tax-deductible.[62]

The purpose of the grant to the foreign organization cannot include endorsing or opposing political candidates for elected office in any country.[62]

Foreign subsidiaries

If a 501(c)(3) organization sets up and controls a foreign subsidiary in order to facilitate its charitable work in a foreign country, then donors' contributions to the 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible even if they are intended to fund the charitable activities in the foreign country.[62][64]

If a foreign organization sets up a 501(c)(3) organization for the sole purpose of raising funds for the foreign organization, and the 501(c)(3) organization sends substantially all contributions to the foreign organization, then donors' contributions to the 501(c)(3) organization are not tax-deductible to the donors.[62]


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External links


The brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. The brain is located in the head, usually close to the sensory organs for senses such as vision. The brain is the most complex organ in a vertebrate's body. In a human, the cerebral cortex contains approximately 14–16 billion neurons, and the estimated number of neurons in the cerebellum is 55–70 billion. Each neuron is connected by synapses to several thousand other neurons. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body targeting specific recipient cells.

Physiologically, the function of the brain is to exert centralized control over the other organs of the body. The brain acts on the rest of the body both by generating patterns of muscle activity and by driving the secretion of chemicals called hormones. This centralized control allows rapid and coordinated responses to changes in the environment. Some basic types of responsiveness such as reflexes can be mediated by the spinal cord or peripheral ganglia, but sophisticated purposeful control of behavior based on complex sensory input requires the information integrating capabilities of a centralized brain.

The operations of individual brain cells are now understood in considerable detail but the way they cooperate in ensembles of millions is yet to be solved. Recent models in modern neuroscience treat the brain as a biological computer, very different in mechanism from an electronic computer, but similar in the sense that it acquires information from the surrounding world, stores it, and processes it in a variety of ways.

This article compares the properties of brains across the entire range of animal species, with the greatest attention to vertebrates. It deals with the human brain insofar as it shares the properties of other brains. The ways in which the human brain differs from other brains are covered in the human brain article. Several topics that might be covered here are instead covered there because much more can be said about them in a human context. The most important is brain disease and the effects of brain damage, that are covered in the human brain article.

Colorado Public Radio

Colorado Public Radio (CPR) is a public radio state network based in Denver, Colorado that broadcasts three services: news, classical music and OpenAir, which plays adult album alternative music. CPR operates a 30-signal, statewide radio network accessible to 80 percent of Coloradans. As of 2013, CPR had 440,000 weekly listeners, 47,000 contributing members and annual revenue of $14 million. In early March 2019, CPR acquired hyperlocal news site Denverite from Spirited Media to bolster its web news coverage for locals.CPR is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Private support from listeners, corporations, foundations and partners accounts for approximately 95 percent of CPR's total budget.

Electronic Music Foundation

Electronic Music Foundation (EMF) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that produces events, publishes and disseminates media and information, and provides access to materials relevant to the history and creative potential of electronic music.

The organization was founded in 1994 by composer Joel Chadabe. In 2000, the EMF Institute website was created in order to provide public access to educational resources relating to electronic music. The project was done in collaboration with the UNESCO Digi-Arts portal.

HB Studio

The HB Studio (Herbert Berghof Studio) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization offering professional training in the performing arts through classes, workshops, free lectures, theater productions, theater rentals, a theater artist residency program, as well as full-time study through their International Student Program and Uta Hagen Institute.Located in Greenwich Village, New York City, HB Studio offers training and development to aspiring and professional artists in a variety of areas, including acting, directing, playwriting, musical theatre, movement and the body, dialect study (speech and voice), scene study analysis, screenwriting and classes for young people. Select classes require an audition for admission.


Ioby (stylized as ioby, an acronym for "in our back yards") is a US-based civic crowdfunding platform operated by a non-profit 501(c)3 organization; it was incorporated in 2007 and launched in beta in April 2009.


JDRF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that funds type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and advocates for regulation favorable to medical research and that makes it easier to market new medical devices. It was formerly called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Palm Beach International Film Festival

The Palm Beach International Film Festival is a film festival in the United States held in Palm Beach, Florida which showcases over 120 films annually in April for over 20,000 attendees. It was recently ranked by the international movie publication MovieMaker Magazine as one of the top 10 destination film festivals in the world as well as one of the Top 25 Independent Festivals in the world. The festival has also hosted more than 150 World Premieres and more than 1,100 films from 55 countries.

The Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) is a not for profit 501 (c) 3 organization.

Perl Foundation

The Perl Foundation (TPF) is dedicated to the advancement of the Perl programming language through open discussion, collaboration, design, and code. The Perl Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Holland, Michigan.

Sherwood Gardens

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The park is maintained and managed by Stratford Green, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization.

The Apache Software Foundation

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is an American non-profit corporation (classified as a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States) to support Apache software projects, including the Apache HTTP Server. The ASF was formed from the Apache Group and incorporated on March 25, 1999.The Apache Software Foundation is a decentralized open source community of developers. The software they produce is distributed under the terms of the Apache License and is free and open-source software (FOSS). The Apache projects are characterized by a collaborative, consensus-based development process and an open and pragmatic software license. Each project is managed by a self-selected team of technical experts who are active contributors to the project. The ASF is a meritocracy, implying that membership of the foundation is granted only to volunteers who have actively contributed to Apache projects. The ASF is considered a second generation open-source organization, in that commercial support is provided without the risk of platform lock-in.

Among the ASF's objectives are: to provide legal protection to volunteers working on Apache projects; to prevent the Apache brand name from being used by other organizations without permission.

The ASF also holds several ApacheCon conferences each year, highlighting Apache projects and related technology.


WiCell Research Institute is a scientific research institute in Madison, Wisconsin that focuses on stem cell research. Independently governed and supported as a 501(c)(3) organization, WiCell operates as an affiliate of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and works to advance stem cell research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and beyond.

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