Nonprofit Organization (NPO): Definition and Example

Nonprofit Organization (NPO): Definition and Instance

What Is a Nonprofit Organization?

A nonprofit Organization is a enterprise that has been granted tax-exempt standing by the Internal profit Service (IRS) as a result of it furthers a social trigger and gives a public profit. Donations made to a nonprofit Organization are sometimes tax-deductible to people and companies that make them, and the nonprofit itself pays no tax on the obtained donations or on every other cash earned by way of fundraising actions. Nonprofit organizations are typically known as NPOs or 501(c)(3) organizations based mostly on the part of the tax code that lets them function.


  • A nonprofit is an entity designed to raised its neighborhood by facilitating donations and grants into packages.
  • Nonprofits might obtain funding from people, companies, authorities entities, or different entities.
  • To qualify as a nonprofit, the entity should serve the general public good, meet submitting necessities, be established as a 501(c)(3) or similar-type Organization, and keep away from participating in sure varieties of actions.
  • Nonprofits file Type 990 as an informational return to speak to the general public its revenues, bills, actions, and packages.
  • Although nonprofits usually have essentially the most passionate people and diversified donation streams, nonprofits additionally usually have restricted sources for hiring and regulatory necessities.


{Qualifications} for NPO Standing

A nonprofit designation and tax-exempt status are given solely to organizations that additional spiritual, scientific, charitable, instructional, literary, public security or cruelty-prevention causes or functions. Examples of nonprofit organizations embody hospitals, universities, nationwide charities, church buildings, and foundations.1

A nonprofit should serve the general public indirectly, whether or not by way of the providing of products, companies, or a mixture of the 2. They’re additionally required to make financial and operating information public in order that donors may be knowledgeable about how—and the way nicely—their contributions have been used.2 Nonprofits might also exist to gather revenue to dispense to different qualifying charities.

Earlier than it may obtain a tax exemption, a company must request 501(c)(3) standing from the IRS. As soon as registered and working, the Organization has to take care of compliance with the suitable state company that regulates charitable organizations.3 This usually requires a devoted CIO and accounting team.

NPOs can’t be political, which helps clarify why so lots of them actively search a non-partisan tone of their communications. Organizations searching for 501(c)(3) standing should state explicitly of their organizing papers that they are going to not take part in any political marketing campaign on the behalf of any candidate or make expenditures for political functions.4 There are 501(c) teams that may interact in these actions, however not 501(c)(3) organizations.

Working Guidelines for NPO Standing

Whereas some not-for-profit organizations use solely volunteer labor, many giant and even medium-size non-profits are prone to require a employees of paid full-time workers, managers, and administrators. Regardless of having particular tax benefits in different respects, nonprofits sometimes should pay employment taxes and abide by state and federal office guidelines in the identical approach as for-profit organizations.

Nonprofits are allowed to offer belongings or revenue to people solely as truthful compensation for his or her companies. Certainly, the Organization should explicitly state in its organizing papers that it’s going to not be used for the non-public achieve or advantage of its founders, workers, supporters, relations, or associates.

Nonprofit Funding Sources

Nonprofits might obtain revenue or donations from quite a lot of sources. Beneath are the commonest methods nonprofits fundraise and earn income.

Particular person Donations

Nonprofits usually depend on particular person donors who contribute cash, items, or companies to help their mission. Donors can provide one-time or recurring donations, they usually might give by way of numerous channels, together with on-line platforms, junk mail, or occasions. Some people might also coordinate with their firm and have donations robotically pulled from their paychecks.


Nonprofits might obtain grants from foundations, companies, or authorities companies. Grants are sometimes awarded for particular tasks or packages, and should require the nonprofit to fulfill sure circumstances or reporting necessities. Nonprofits normally have to use for the grant which requires an in depth utility course of.

Company Presents

Companies might donate cash, items, or companies to nonprofits as a part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives or to help causes that align with their values or mission. As well as, if corporations have matching packages, companies might match particular person donations which might be robotically withdrawn from paychecks.

Main Occasions

Nonprofits usually host occasions corresponding to galas, auctions, or charity runs to lift cash and consciousness for his or her trigger. These occasions might contain ticket gross sales, sponsorships, or auctions of products or companies.

In-Form Donations

Nonprofits might obtain donations of products or companies corresponding to workplace provides, gear, or skilled companies. As a substitute of people or corporations donating cash, it might be extra environment friendly to have particular items donated as a substitute. Not solely can this assist cut back their bills and liberate sources for different actions, the donating celebration might obtain favorable tax advantages as gifting in-kind gadgets against having promote an excellent to donate the money could also be favorable.

Nonprofit vs. Not-for-profit

The phrases nonprofit Organization (NPO) and not-for-profit Organization (NFPO)are typically used interchangeably. There are, nevertheless, key distinctions between the 2 varieties of enterprise.

A key one is their objective. As talked about, nonprofits should supply some social profit and supply items or companies. Not-for-profits needn’t have such an orientation and should exist merely to serve their membership relatively than society at giant.

The sections of the IRS’s 501(c) code that governs every of NPOs and NFPOs serve to additional delineate their variations. Nonprofits function below 501(c)(3), for firms, funds or foundations that function for spiritual, charitable, scientific, literary or instructional functions.1 NFPOs, in contrast, primarily accomplish that below different sections, corresponding to 501(c)(7), for leisure organizations.5 One basic instance of an NFPO, then, is a sports activities membership that is collectively owned by its members and sustained merely for his or her enjoyment.

In flip, the code units out completely different tax therapy for NPOs and NFPOs. Generally, each Organization varieties are tax-exempt, as within the revenue they earn is just not topic to tax. However solely with NPOs is the cash individuals give to the Organization, as dues or donations, deductible from their taxable income.6

Type 990 is due on the fifteenth day 5 months after the Organization’s taxable 12 months finish. For organizations which have a calendar 12 months finish, Type 990 is due Could fifteenth although the Organization can file an extension.


Nonprofits and Type 990

Nonprofits are tax-exempt entities. Nonetheless, they’re nonetheless required to file informational returns to the IRS utilizing Form 990. This tax type gives details about the Organization’s funds, packages, and actions to the general public and the IRS. The shape is utilized by charitable, spiritual, instructional, and different varieties of tax-exempt organizations. Personal foundations, charitable trusts, and political organizations additionally should file a type 990.

The shape 990 requires organizations to offer detailed details about their income, bills, belongings, and liabilities. The shape can also be very completely different from a person’s tax type as there are numerous governance questions to make sure IRS compliance.

Many corporations publish their 990 on their web site. The shape can also be out there to the general public, which permits donors, stakeholders, and members of the general public to evaluation the Organization’s monetary data and assess its operations and impression. Because of this, it is extremely essential to make sure the knowledge reported is appropriate as it might not directly negatively impression public notion on the usage of donated funds.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Nonprofits

Professionals of Nonprofits

Nonprofits are sometimes targeted on a selected mission or trigger. As a result of they function round a central imaginative and prescient corresponding to addressing a social concern, selling schooling or the humanities, or offering healthcare to underserved populations, this imaginative and prescient can foster a higher sense of objective for employees. Versus a for-profit entity primarily pushed by growing revenue and market share, there’s usually higher intrinsic worth inside nonprofits.

As a result of nonprofits are exempt from federal and state revenue taxes, they will allocate extra of their sources in the direction of attaining their mission and serving their communities. Nonprofits even have entry to the higher vary of funding sources mentioned above. Just like how an investor may try and diversify their portfolio, nonprofits can purpose to diversify their revenue and donation streams.

In some ways, nonprofits can capitalize on cheaper or free labor to help their operations. Volunteer-run organizations might have small-to-no labor prices, and these people could also be pushed by a powerful sense of neighborhood versus people striving for private revenue.

Cons of Nonprofits

Nonprofits depend on donations, grants, and different sources of funding to function, which may be unpredictable and inconsistent. This may make it tough for nonprofits to maintain their packages and operations over the long run. Versus corporations that generate merchandise that will meet day by day requirements, donating is an non-compulsory expense for households and should simply be lowered or eradicated.

Nonprofits usually have restricted scalability. They might have restricted employees, experience, and know-how sources, which might make it difficult to implement packages and obtain their objectives successfully. As well as, resulting from restricted sources, nonprofits are sometimes recognized for decrease compensation scales in comparison with for-profit entities.

Nonprofits might also face accountability hurdles. Like different types of Organization, nonprofits face sure ranges of regulation and oversight. On one hand, it should preserve necessities to take care of its nonprofit standing through the IRS. However, it should exhibit to donors it’s being fiscally accountable and deploying profitable packages that profit the neighborhood. Final, administration of a nonprofit might report back to the board and should reply to extra strategically-driven motivations.


  • Centered on a selected mission that improves the well-being of its neighborhood
  • Is exempt from taxes, permitting for sources to be deployed extra effectively
  • Could have a broad vary of funding and donation sources
  • Usually depend on volunteers for labor

  • Could have unpredictable income streams resulting from modifications in donor preferences and skills
  • Should adjust to rules and donor stipulations
  • Usually face aggressive drawback when hiring in comparison with for revenue entities

How Do Nonprofit Organizations Work?

Nonprofits solicit donations from people, companies, or authorities entities. Then, it makes use of these proceeds to deploy packages to profit its goal neighborhood. On account of utilizing funds for the betterment of the neighborhood, the IRS permits nonprofit organizations that meet acceptable necessities to be tax-exempt.

Do Nonprofits Make money?

Sure, nonprofits earn cash. It’s totally affordable to anticipate that nonprofits obtain extra income in a given 12 months in comparison with the bills it pays out. Like every other type of enterprise, a nonprofit should try to perpetually function. Because of this, nonprofits usually construct reserves, have internet revenue, and earn cash to make sure it may serve its mission for the long-term.

Who Really Owns a Nonprofit?

A nonprofit has no shareholders. As a substitute, a nonprofit is usually overseen by a board of administrators that dictate and handle operation of the entity. The chief director of a nonprofit studies to the board, and the board determine upon the most effective methods to deploy capital for the betterment of the general public.

The Backside Line

Nonprofit organizations are entities which might be tax-exempt and function to raised the neighborhood. By receiving funds from people, companies, and governments, nonprofits deploy packages and methods for public good. Nonprofits should meet a lot of regulatory compliances to function, they usually usually have essentially the most passionate, loyal volunteers serving to function their mission.


Liberty Magazine requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Internal profit Service. “Exempt Purposes – Internal profit Code Section 501(c)(3).”
  2. Internal profit Service. “Exempt Organizations – Required Filings.”
  3. Internal profit Service. “Frequently Asked Questions About Applying for Tax Exemption.”
  4. Internal profit Service. “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organizations.”
  5. Internal profit Service. “Social Clubs.”
  6. Internal profit Service. “Charitable Contribution Deductions.”
Prepare and write by:

Author: Mohammed A Bazzoun

If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask in comments.


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