Non-profit Organization Types and How to Select the Best One

You intend to launch a nonprofit. You have a goal and determine that a non-profit organization will provide you with the necessary platform to achieve it. Whether on a neighborhood, national, or even global scale, you’re going to create a company that will make the world better.

What kind of non-profit organization structure will you pick is the crucial question right now. Varied non-profit entities have different strengths and limitations, making them more or less appropriate for particular non-profit goals.

Make sure you are well-informed and ready to make your non-profit dream a reality before beginning your non-profit journey.

What Exactly Is a Non-profit Company?

A non-profit company is one that was established to benefit society. Non-profits aim to generate a shared benefit for society. Whether on a local, national, or international level, as opposed to conventional businesses, where profit is the major goal and gauge of success.

Non-profit organizations use all earnings to pursue their missions rather than distributing extra cash to their owners or corporate shareholders.

In the United States, non-profits are required to register with the federal government and are governed by the IRS tax code, which has stringent guidelines.

What Advantages Do Non-Profit Organizations Have?

Starting a non-profit can be a very efficient way to get started. Especially if you have a mission and want to change your work. The majority of the advantages of having a well-run non-profit relate to financial savings or assisting your business in raising funds.

The following are the main advantages:

  • Organizations that are not for profit may be eligible for tax exemption.
  • Some qualifying non-profits accept private gifts that are tax deductible.
  • Some charities may be eligible for government or private grants.
  • A non-profit organization can shield its founders from legal responsibility.
  • An established non-profit is designed to endure beyond the involvement of any one person.
  • Exemption from Taxes

Certain non-profits that satisfy the legal requirements can petition for tax-exempt status, which exempts them from the majority of federal and state tax duties. Compliance with IRS non-profit tax standards and yearly informative tax returns reporting non-profit financial information are requirements for maintaining this status.

What Kinds of Non-Profit Organizations Are There?

A 501(c)(3) organization, titled after the IRS law’s provision it was founded under, is the most typical type of non-profit. A 501(c)(3) is a type of non-profit organization that was created with a social mission in mind. This mission could be religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, or even related to safety or sports.

Public charities or private foundations are the two main categories of 501(c)(3) organizations. The public supports public charities, and they get funds for their operations from a variety of sources. On the other hand, private foundations rely on amassing private wealth and frequently act as a source of funding for other philanthropic organizations.

Even while the 501(c)(3) may be the most popular, many different kinds of organizations can be founded under IRS code section 501. The most common ones could be helpful, however, IRS publication 557 contains more information.

  • 501(c)(4): Local employee associations or civic leagues
  • 501(c)(5): agriculture or labor union groups
  • 501(c)(7): social clubs with a focus on recreation
  • Mutual insurance firms, under section 501(c)(15).
  • 501(k): institutions for childcare

What Are the Various Business Structures That My Charity Has Access To?

You now understand how to classify your company under the tax code as a non-profit organization. The next step is to decide how your nonprofit will be set up. There are various non-profit organization structure types, each with advantages and disadvantages.

Individual Association

The least formal structure for a charity is an association. This is because all you need is a set-up organization and a collection of people who share the same goals. Associations are straightforward and hassle-free because they don’t need any additional paperwork, but their capabilities are restricted.

You can organize events, meet together with like-minded individuals, and even open a bank account to help with expenses. However, neither tax-deductible gifts nor tax-exempt status will be available to you. Additionally, an unincorporated association cannot shield you from monetary risk.


The charity trust is another option and provides you with a legal framework to help manage a portfolio of assets. Trusts with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status typically operate as private foundations, providing grants to support other organizations carrying out certain missions.

For non-profits attempting to manage a sizable estate or endowment, trusts are helpful. Although they must adhere to strict standards and are not particularly flexible, they do not shield owners from legal liability.


The majority of 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations are set up as corporations, which establish a distinct legal entity and shield owners and members from being held liable for the company’s actions. It is significantly simpler to file for tax-exempt status, be eligible for grants, and make tax-deductible gifts when you have a company structure.

The disadvantage is that a corporation is not the most adaptable of commercial entities and must adhere to many rules and formal procedures that a non-profit organization does not have to.

Various non-profit organizations that fall under IRS Section 501 commonly take the form of companies. But once more, the most typical and adaptable sort of non-profit corporation is 501(c)(3).


Many small firms use limited liability companies, often known as LLCs, as a flexible corporate structure to safeguard their assets, reduce income taxes, and maintain substantial control over daily operations.

The complicated and sporadic process of applying for non-profit status is open to LLCs. Typical small business LLCs may consist of one or more people. However, each LLC member must be a tax-exempt organization for the LLC to qualify as a non-profit.

Non-profit LLCs are often only established when several non-profit organizations need to establish an umbrella organization to work together on a specific project.

Does My Nonprofit Need to Be Incorporated?

You might not need to establish your non-profit if you are pooling cash and working with your neighbors or coworkers to satisfy your community’s needs. Parents can pool their resources and organize events for their children without forming a corporation, but doing so would shield them from liability.

However, you should seriously consider incorporation the moment your non-profit has higher goals. A non-profit can continue doing its mission without relying on a single person to make it happen because of its legal structure.

Once your non-profit adopts that corporate form, obtaining tax-exempt status, submitting grant applications, and hiring personnel all become considerably simpler.

Ready to Start Your Nonprofit Company?

Are you prepared to choose the structure of your non-profit organization? Start today and bring your community’s dreams to life. Your voice is needed by the entire world.

Feel free to ask for assistance if you’re having trouble figuring out how to legally set up your company or if you’re feeling frightened by the procedure. Find a means to advance your idea by speaking with a non-profit specialist at Your Part Time Accountant right away.