A nonprofit is a type of business structure where the profits of the business are not distributed among the owners and shareholders. In fact, not-for-profit businesses are not allowed to create stocks, though they can invest in other stocks as a source of income. Often these organizations are created for charitable purposes. The IRS classifies several different kinds of nonprofit business structures, some of which may be tax-exempt, depending on the nature and purpose of the organization. Each is listed as a subcategory under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, and each has its own requirements and regulations, limitations, and tax implications, as well as the ability to apply for tax exemption. Here are some major types of nonprofits:

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501(c)(3) - Charitable Organizations. The most common nonprofit is a charity, and refers to an organization that operates to fulfill any of the following purposes: religion, education, science, literature, public safety testing, amateur sports, and the    prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Common types of charitable organizations—which the IRS uses in its generally accepted legal sense—include food banks, museums, theatre groups, colleges, low-income housing organizations, and day care centers. Both public and private charities are usually prohibited from or limited in engaging in lobbying activities. As charities, 501(c)(3) organizations can apply for tax-exemption for all income related to the business or mission. You can find a complete list of all 28 types of 501(c) corporations through the IRS.

501(c)(4) - Civic League, Social Welfare Organization, or Local Employee Association. These types of nonprofits are created to promote community and individual welfare. Lobbying activities are not limited by law, and regulations regarding partisan political activities Labor and Agricultural Organization. This is created for educational or instructive purposes, designed to improved conditions and efficiency of work. Types include labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations.

501(c)(6) - Trade or Professional Association. These are created to improve business conditions. Types of these nonprofits include Chambers of commerce, retail merchants associations and real estate boards. They are typically not subject to legal limitations on lobbying and political activity.

501(c)(7) - Social or Recreational Club. Types of these nonprofits include hobby clubs, country clubs, and other groups created for recreational purposes.  

 501(c)(8)- Fraternal Societies. These types of organizations must operate under the “lodge” system, and provide substantial programs and activities for members, whose membership is based on common ties or pursuit of a common goal, and who receive benefits.  

501(c)(9) - Employee Beneficiary Association. This kind of association provides for the payment of life, sickness, accident, or other benefits to its employee members. 

501(c)(14) - State Chartered Credit Union and Mutual Reserve Fund. These nonprofits offer their members high-quality financial services and enable them pool and organize their own financial resources.

501(c)(19) - Veterans Organizations. This type of nonprofit is comprised primarily of past or present members of the United states Armed Forces, and organized to provide benefits for these and other USAF members.

Starting a nonprofit requires preparation and organization, and Rocket Lawyer makes the process more manageable. Members get discounts on our easy incorporation service (free for new members!), and can find all necessary documents to start a nonprofit or talk to a lawyer for extra help.

Get started Start Your Non-Profit Answer some questions. We’ll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Non-Profit Answer some questions. We’ll take care of the rest.