What Are The Pros And Cons Of Filing For Non-Profit Status?

In the long run, it is definitely in the best interest of well-organized PTO’s to file for tax exemption under the 501(c)(3). However, poorly run organizations with only marginal commitment from volunteers will find the returns are limited.

Those who benefit from the process

– Are well-organized
– Have dedicated members who will not only file to obtain non-profit status, but will also maintain that designation in the future (which requires filing an annual registration report at no cost)
– Make a pointed effort to transition responsibilities and documents between new boards of officers each year Beyond these fundamentals, there are other pros and cons to consider.

The Cons:

* 501(c)(3) requires application to the IRS; the process is quite rigorous, but certainly not impossible
* Filing of the application requires a dedicated effort and time-commitment for volunteers
* It costs several hundred dollars to file, even if you do the work yourself
* Groups must know how they are restricted as a 501(c)(3); the IRS limits activities such as political activism, legislative activity, business activity unrelated to the organization and other activities

The Pros:

* Groups are exempted from paying Federal Income Tax (but not from filing appropriate tax forms)
* Groups are exempted from unemployment taxes
* Donations and in-kind gifts are tax deductible for donors
* Groups become eligible for bulk mailing permits/rates
* Grant monies (and grants of in-kind services) are much more widely available to non-profit groups
* There are many commercial and social sharing and networking websites that allow official nonprofits to register their group to receive either free advertising, or donations from visitors of these sites (for example eBay.com, Squidoo.com, Google.com)

It is also widely felt that status as a 501(c)(3) organization lends credibility to the organization; donors can see that there is documented proof of the organization and its function, and that they are not supporting an organization of questionable mission or origin. Most groups that are well-run find 501(c)(3) designation to be to their distinct advantage, despite the effort and cost.

Most PTO’s find that their efforts are more effective as they are able to designate more money for the betterment of their children and their school and the return on the cost of the filing fee is enjoyed in short time. For PTOs that plan to be in existence for a number of years (as most do), designation as a recognized non-profit works only to their advantage; for those of tenuous existence, the process of filing a 501(c)(3) is probably not worth the time and money.