What are 501(c) Nonprofit Organizations?

Jon Tyrell

Jon Tyrell

501(c) nonprofit refers to designations under which NGOs in the United States’ Internal Revenue Code (IRC) are conferred a tax-exempt status. Specifically, it provides information on tax-exempt nonprofits. 

The government offers this tax break to encourage the presence of NGOs that cater to the need of the public. Common tax-exempt organizations include groups that are considered public charities, entities, advocacy groups, educational and artistic groups, religious entities, and governments.


501(c)(1) nonprofit
501(c)(1) nonprofit


  • The 501(c)(3) designation is the most common tax category outlined in section 501(c) of the IRS tax code. 
  • The government offers tax breaks to encourage the presence of NGOs that cater to the needs of the public.


What are the types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations?

Multiple sections delineate the different types of tax-exempt organizations according to their purpose and activities.

The most common 501(c) nonprofit organizations include:

  • 501(c)(1): Any corporation that is organized under the laws of the United States and is exempt from federal income tax. 
  • 501(c)(2): This includes business corporations exempted from taxes based on their property. 
  • 501(c)(3): These are corporations, funds, or foundations that are affiliated with a religious, literary, scientific, charity, or educational organization.
  • 501(c)(4): These nonprofit organizations work in the area of social welfare and improve the condition of people.
  • 501(c)(5): These are associations that deal with the agricultural, social, and economic sectors. 
  • 501(c)(6): These are business organizations that are not based on profit. They operate to assist the community. These entities also serve in the area of sports and recreational activities.
  • 501(c)(7): These entities comprise recreational associations.

What are the types of 501(c)(3) organizations?

In general, 501(c)(3) organizations are the most common tax category outlined in section 501(c) of the IRS. Basically, it comprises nonprofits often visited and supported by donors. 

By and large, the different entities eligible for 501(c)(3) are private foundations, charitable organizations, and churches/religious entities.


What are the other types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations?

Presently, the 501c nonprofit designation, which was first used for tax-exempt charities, has been expanded over time. As a result, more types of organizations have been incorporated. 

Other organizations that have the same features as the ones listed in the definition include

  • Fraternal beneficiary societies that operate under the lodge system. These entities assist individuals with illnesses as well as other areas of need.
  • Local teacher’s associations that are not funded by a private shareholder. It depends on whether it is local or whether it expands for the gain of a single private stakeholder.
  • Local benevolent life insurance associations meant to help people in specific places.
  • Certain mutual cooperative companies responsible for the electric and phone systems.
  • Nonprofit healthcare insurers
  • Cemetery companies owned and operated by some people specifically for their exclusive benefits and operated in a nonprofit way.
  • Credit unions that don’t have organized funds.
  • Insurers, aside from life insurance firms, who have less than USD 600,000 in annual sales
  • Several trusts that cater to purposes such as collecting unemployment payments and making retirement pensions.
  • The military organization whose main purpose is supporting the U.S armed forces or their spouses, children and descendants, widows, and auxiliary units.


Tax-Deductible Donations to 501(c) Nonprofit Organizations

In addition to being nonprofits, donations to some 501(c) organizations are tax exempt. Thus, tax payers are able to get tax deductions based on how much they donated to these 501c tax exempt organizations, and up to a percentage of their AGI (Adjusted Gross Income).

Generally, individuals who itemize on their taxes may deduct up to 60% of their donations to charity. For some types of nonprofits such as veteran’s organizations and private non-operating foundations the limit is “up to 30% of an individual’s income”, that may be deducted as charitable contributions to these organizations. Also, generally, for property donations there is a ceiling of 30% of the adjusted gross income of the donor for tax deductions.

A charity that provides care to the needy or improves the conditions of those living in poverty has to be registered. This is done under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Furthermore, the IRS often provides information about what parts of an organization’s donation are deductible and to what extent. For example, when a person donates $100 to the church, that donation is likely deductible.

Note, some non-profits obtain their tax-exempt status under the 501c3 code, but are not qualified organizations. This means donations to these organizations are not deductible. Examples of some of these organizations are:

  • Social welfare organizations
  • Labor unions
  • Country clubs
  • Civic leagues and associations
  • Lodges
  • Social and sports clubs
  • For-profit schools and hospitals
  • Political candidates and organizations
  • Most state bar associations
  • Homeowner’s associations



501(c) nonprofit label refers to designations under which nonprofit organizations in the United States Internal Revenue Code (IRC) are conferred tax-exempt status. 501(c) nonprofit organizations have types from 501(c)(1) to 501(c)(7) with the numbers representing the different organizations that constitute them. The 501(c)(3) organization is the most common of the 501(c) nonprofit organizations. It comprises private foundations, charitable organizations, and churches/religious entities.


If you enjoyed this article, please share your comments with us at the bottom of this post.

Trending Post

Trending Posts

Recent Post