There are more than 30 types of non-profit entity classifications described by various sections of the Internal Revenue Code. These range from corporations organized under act of Congress to social and recreational clubs, from business organizations to labor organizations, and virtually everything in between. The authorized purposes are as diverse as our economy. When the intent is appropriate, almost any organization can be set up as a non-profit.
The most well known type of non-profit is, of course, the 501(c)(3). The purposes for which these are organized include religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or prevention of cruelty to children or animals. If you find an organization that does something for the benefit of others, it is probably a 501(c)(3).
Many organizations accept contributions. Some even plead, regularly, asking for your money. (Does PBS ring a bell?) If you write a check, can you deduct the gift?
Many times, Yes, but there are limits to contributions. Usually these are created either by the type of organization or the dollar amount. The most basic question when making a contribution, however, is whether the receiving organization is a qualified exempt organization.
If you want to know if an organization is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions, check out the IRS website Exempt Organizations Select Check. When you search, be sure to limit your search to avoid getting hundreds or thousands of results. The search results will include any word typed in the Name field, so either use only key words, or include an exact name (or portion of) in quotation marks to help keep your results reasonable.
If you're a nerd like me you'll be interested to see the organizations in your search results. Go check it out! (And if you have questions, let us know!)
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