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Nonprofits FAQs

What is the difference between a "private foundation" and a "public charity"?

Most people forming Nonprofit organizations prefer to set up a 501(c)(3) public charity because the opportunities for public donations are far greater. Private donors to a 501(c)(3) "public charity" may donate up to 50% of their adjusted gross income. Donors to a "private foundation" can only donate up to 30% of their adjusted gross income.


Ultimately, the IRS will look at an organization's primary source of financial support to determine if it qualifies as a public charity or a private foundation. In general, if an organization derives its support from a relatively few number of people, the IRS will classify the organization as a private foundation. If the organization's source of support is large and varied enough, the IRS will usually classify the foundation as a public charity.


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