Why become 501(c)(3)?


kimberly wang / eardog productions

For the last four years my sister has been running a small animal-welfare non-profit she founded. With no team, few volunteers, and no compensation, she has been putting every free hour of her time into growing this small operation into the wide-reaching small organization it is today. Without officially incorporating or filing for tax exemption, she has somehow managed to do lots with very (read: extraordinarily) little. So why all of a sudden does her organization plan to go through the headache, the hassle, the paperwork, and time-consuming effort of incorporating and filing for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS?

Like I said, her organization has grown. What started as a one-woman show from her studio apartment in Manhattan has grown into a one-woman-run operation with thirty volunteers, a massive following on social media, and events throughout New York. Though she has done wonders with what little she had at her disposal, my sister feels as though she has reached capacity. Without 501(c)(3) status she can’t accept significant donations, she can’t apply for grants, and she can’t even solicit for donations on many charitable websites. She has reached a point where the organization is at risk of plateauing before reaching its potential.

It’s going to cost her hundreds in filing fees, hours in planning and paperwork, but taking this step, my sister hopes, is the strategic move she needs to take her non-profit to the next level. I can’t wait to see where she takes her organization next!


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