Charities are not the only nonprofits on the block

posted by
Sonja Moseley
Director of Certification
& Benefits

Marine Retailers Association
of the Americas

I recently completed the MNpS program at ASU and have a successful career in association management. Throughout the program, the overwhelming focus was on charities. Yes, 501(c)(3) organizations make up the majority of the nonprofit sector, but there are 29 types of 501(c) organizations. As the Executive Director of the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, I seemed to be the only inhabitant on the 501(c)(6) island. I found this surprising since nearly every career path in the world has a trade association or individual membership association dedicated the to uniting that industry, distributed among 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(6)s.


What many people consider nonprofit organizations are 501(c)(3)s and include charitable, religious, scientific or literary organizations. Contributions to these groups are tax deductible, which is not the case in other nonprofit organizations. Some associations fall into this category, but are limited on the amount of lobbying they can do on behalf of their members. 501(c)(4)s are sometimes referred to social welfare leagues and have more freedom in political activities. 501(c)(6)s include business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues. Many trade associations fall into this category.