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Can a non-profit Faith Based Organization have a primary mission goal to teach children fire safety?

Antioch, CA |

I would like to know if a FBO can incorporate as a non-profit public benefit corporation

Attorney Answers 4


  1. The answer is yes.

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  2. I am unaware of any state or federal prohibition of a non-profit faith based organization to have a primary mission goal to teach children fire safety. This would be perfectly acceptable.

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  3. Yes, that certainly sounds like an exempt purpose activity, however, make sure that such is allowed as per your Articles and Bylaws and also make sure to report the "new" activity on your current year's Form 990 if you are required to file such.


  4. Yes, but keep in mind that there is a distinction between incorporating as a not-for-profit organization which either faith-based or secular organizations can do, and gaining an additional 501-c-3 exemption as a "public charity" from the IRS where contributions from donors are tax exempt.

    Usually, these are granted only to traditional organizations ministering to the poor and providing educational and medical services (traditional charities, if you will), although there are exceptions. You will have to go through an additional lengthy and detailed process with the IRS to gain this "recognition" of your charitable status and file annual tax returns known as Form 990s or lose the exemption.

    Many people confuse these two kinds of entities, but it's easy to be a not-for-profit corporation and harder to get the IRS exemption. Teaching "fire safety to children" may or may not fall within IRS guidelines, depending on the Form 1065 application you file and how they rule on it. It may or may not be worth it for you to go this extra step to make the donations deductible as charitable contributions, get a break on bulk mailing postage, but subject any possible employee salaries, contracts or compensation to IRS scrutiny, and (unlike private taxpayers) have your Form 990 financials available online through organizations such as guidestar.org. There's also a significant annual accounting cost associated with hiring a CPA to do the Form 990 returns.

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