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There are many kinds of nonprofits — the Internal Revenue Code defines more than 25 categories of organizations that are exempt from federal income taxes. But for most people, a nonprofit refers to what the tax code classifies as a “charitable” or 501(c)(3) organization.
What separates a charitable organization from other types of tax-exempt organizations is its purpose: it must benefit the broad public interest, not just the interests of its members. It must serve one or more of the following purposes, which come from the IRS: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
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