Categories for 501(c)(3) Recognition

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We all know What Categories Qualify for 501(c)(3) with helping hands imagethat a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is a charitable nonprofit, but what are the specific categories that qualify? If you didn’t know this, don’t worry, we have a great blog about the differences between nonprofits and charities, and one on whether you need a 501c3 charity or not.

Which of these would you think didn’t qualify as a 501(c)(3) charity?

  • Soup kitchen
  • Rugby team
  • Church
  • Library
  • After school program
  • Law firm that defends indigent clients

I’m terribly sorry because we pulled the worst trick in the book: They would all qualify as long as they meet the other requirements. On their face, each of these organizations would be able to qualify as a 501(c)(3) charity.


501c3 Categories

The exempt purposes in section 501(c)(3) include charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.

Charitable, in this case, is the broadest exempt purpose, which includes “relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency.”

So, what does this mean? This includes all the things you typically think of when you think of a charity like soup kitchens, churches, after school programs, and more. It also includes schools, nonprofit laboratories, community restoration organizations, and organizations set up to defend human rights and civil rights.

There are other 501(c) categories that do not fit under the 501(c)(3) categories, so even if your organization doesn’t fit one of these exempt purposes, you may still be able to obtain a tax exempt status.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify for 501(c)(3) or need help obtaining your status, please feel free to contact us at or by calling 919-912-9640.

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About the Firm: Law++ was established to provide legal services to individuals and businesses in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Apex, Cary and surrounding communities with the goal of making the legal system easier to use and more personable. The attorneys at Law++ strive to provide exceptional personal service while embodying trust, accountability, and efficiency. The firm practices primarily in the areas of business law, corporate law, contract law, nonprofit law, business litigation, and mergers & acquisitions. The firm values include integrity, efficiency and quality workmanship.

Disclaimer: The Information found in our blog is for educational purposes only, and is not meant as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney. Nothing in this blog is intended to create an attorney-client relationship.
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Richard Bobholz

Richard Bobholz

Managing Attorney at Law++
Richard Bobholz works primarily with small businesses to handle their formations, contracts, employment and more complicated areas of corporate law. Richard manages the small business law and mergers & acquisitions sections of the firm. Richard invented the EasyFee and was the driving force behind the 30 Companies in 30 Days pro bono project. Throughout his work, Richard demonstrates his quality workmanship, integrity and honesty, and efficient work ethic. Richard moved to Durham, NC in 2012 and opened this firm shortly thereafter with the goal of changing the legal system for the better.