A non-profit organization is a business that serves a public or mutual benefit without the pursuit or accumulation of profits. While not all non-profit organizations are strictly formed for the charitable needs of a community, almost all are formed for the express benefit of the public. The high rise of poverty, unemployment and citizens reliant on relief and aid programs has brought an increase to these types of businesses steadily over the past few years.
Voluntary organizations have been in place since the mid-eighteenth century but not advertised or considered a structured business. Churches and members of the society would just band together and help out neighbors in need. By 1940, the need for aid had grown into companies that needed to be able to help more than just a few families at a time, swelling to 12,000 secular charitable tax-exempt organizations. In 2008, there were over 700,000 non-profit organizations.
There are over 25 different classifications of tax-exempt groups that include charitable organizations, civic leagues, fraternal organizations, social clubs and labor unions that make it their business to gather funds from the public to use for the benefit of society. Some are exempt from paying federal income taxes while others have other certain privileges such as being able to pay employees a salary. The type of classification that the organization receives from the federal and state governments is usually determined by the need of the public. A soup kitchen that feeds the homeless may be given a larger type of exempt status than an art center built for the purpose of bringing beauty to a community.
Charitable organizations are the most commonly known. When you receive a phone call from one of these major non-profit organizations, the name is usually familiar to you. The United Way or Disabled Veterans are examples of charities that have specific causes outlined to present you with when they ask for your financial help. Get into the habit of using reverse phone lookup if any charitable organization phones you to double check the validity of their claim. They will also not be opposed to sending information through the mail to receive your support.
The health care industry has caused non-profit businesses to increase over the past decade. There are companies that offer assistance for specific medical problems, help with necessary equipment and home care and high priced medications. RxAssist.org is one such organization that will lead you to prescription assistance programs. Idealist.org is another helpful non-profit health care organization that lets you search for an organization depending on your specific needs. Companies such as these are rarely heard of because most of the money they collect is used for the patients in need. Get familiar with names like these if you should receive a call from one. Use reverse phone lookup to find out as much as you can about the company. You may find a new non-profit organization that you wish to contribute to.
With the thousands of non-profit organizations available today, there are also those that are con artists wanting to make a quick buck. Fraud is rampant and charitable organizations are the perfect way to swindle someone that just wants to help their community. "Help Feed a Needy Child" is a popular type of organization that scams a receiver of a call by offering long-distance calling rates of 3.9 cents per minute while they promise to donate 2% of all of your long distance phone call fees to the poor children. These companies may be deceiving you into thinking that they are actually part of UNICEF or Food for the Hungry when they are not. Using a name that is close to a major non-profit organization is not illegal and you cannot report them without proof that they are not giving part of their proceeds to charity. However, investigations have proven that more times than not, the money cannot be tracked to helping anyone.
The only way to know for sure that the non-profit company is actually donating its collected funds to the advertised cause is to do some investigating before getting taken by a look-alike company. After using reverse phone lookup to receive as much information as possible on a caller that is representing a charitable organization, call the Better Business Bureau. Almost all of the legitimate cause related marketing programs have a rating or reports listed with the Bureau. You can go to http://bbb.org to find a huge database with virtually any reputable charity to donate to.
There are many other ways to find out if a non-profit company is reputable. Visiting your local library and asking for a copy of the Encyclopedia of Associates, the Foundation Center's Foundation Directory or the Directory of Nonprofit Organizations can provide you with listings of those companies with a 501Ã‚Â©3 tax exempt status. The IRS Publication 78 is another good source for checking tax-exempt organizations. If you find companies close to a name but not quite perfect, you have stumbled upon a copycat organization attempting to lead you to believe that they are one in the same with a reputable company.
There is no reason why you have to agree to give money over the phone without first checking out the company behind the call. Use reverse phone lookup to obtain as much information on the business and do your own investigating. While in the reverse phone lookup, search for a mailbox rental company that has the same address. This is a sure fire way to know that you have uncovered a fraudulent company. Never subscribe to a cause that demands a fee. This is most certainly a scam. After you are satisfied that a charity is definitely a good cause, you will feel better about donating to them.
*This is not intended to be a thorough explanation of the law, nor does it attempt to offer legal advice. If you intend to make full use of this law, you should first consult an attorney. However you choose to use this information is with your full responsibility and at your own risk.