A nonprofit corporation is an organization whose purpose is something other than making a profit. A nonprofit donates its revenue to achieve a specific goal that benefits the public, instead of distributing it to shareholders. There are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the US.
Being a nonprofit does not mean the organization won’t make a profit. Nonprofits can make money, but all of the money must go back into the organization by paying employee salaries, administrative expenses and other overhead costs. No one person or group owns a nonprofit. Assets from a nonprofit can be sold, but it benefits the whole organization rather than individuals.
While anyone can incorporate as a nonprofit, only those who pass the stringent standards set forth by the government can achieve tax exempt, or 501c3, status. The process of creating incorporation papers is just the first step in becoming a completely recognized nonprofit organization. We discuss the steps to becoming a nonprofit further into this page.