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What’s the difference between a nonprofit and a 501(c)(3)?
By Robyn Guilliams
April 2, 2013

When an organization wishes to be classified as “nonprofit,” it must register with a state—usually the state in which it operates. Every state has different classifications for nonprofit organizations. For instance, New York and some other states have a type of business classified as a “Not-For-Profit Corporation.” Other states have corporations that are classified as “Non Stock Corporations.” What all of these corporations have in common is that they do not have any owner, and the business of the organization is run by a board of directors. 

Once an organization formally registers as a nonprofit company with the state, it can request federal tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. If granted, the organization will not have to pay federal taxes on its income (provided that income is related to the organization’s “charitable mission”), and donations made generally will be tax deductible for the donor.
So, all 501(c)(3) organizations are nonprofits. But not all nonprofits are 501(c)(3)s!

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