Commonly asked questions about non-profit organizations:

How do for-profit and non-profit organizations differ?

Non-profit organizations cannot give away dividends or shares to their directors, officers, or organization members. A profit organization can give away shares of stock. In this situation, shareholders can benefit from their investments.

Are non-profit corporations exempt from tax responsibilities?

Not all non-profit organizations are 501c3 tax-exempt. There are special requirements that must be satisfied for a non-profit to take advantage of a 501c3 tax exemption status. An organization must apply for the status and be approved by the IRS and state tax board to take advantage of this opportunity.

Is one person able to be the sole director and officer of a non-profit?

Most states require three directors to form a non-profit. The following states will require less than three directors if there are less than three members:

  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Virginia

Some states allow only one director to form a non-profit organization. These states include:

California, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia, Iowa, Oklahoma, Washington

Is a non-profit corporation able to make a profit?

Yes. A non-profit corporation can bring in more money than it spends. The profits can be used to cover operational costs. These profits can't be given to directors, employees, and officers in the form of dividends.

Who monitors the activities of a non-profit corporation?

The Attorney General has the authority to monitor and investigate a non-profit corporation's activities, including the ability to investigate non-profit corporation charities and investigate all corporations' records, including those that are non-profits.

What, if any, are the differences between a director and a trustee?

There are no differences between the two. Both a Board of Directors and Board of Trustees hold the same meaning. Many non-profits choose to have a Board of Advisors and outline its powers in the bylaws. Unless the bylaws outline legal authority, the Board of Advisors doesn't possess legal authority.