What is the Difference Between a Nonprofit Organization and a Charity?

article image

What is a charity?

Charities are non-profit organizations that serve a charitable purpose that benefits the community. An organization must meet certain criteria to be recognized as a public charity by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). An example of a public charity is one that actively seeks donations from the general public, government agencies, businesses, or private foundations. In addition, the charity must use the funds it receives to accomplish the goals and purposes of the charity or to support another charitable organization.

Charity can take many forms, including:

  • Religious organizations
  • Educational organizations
  • Cultural organizations
  • Animal and Wildlife organizations
  • Health and Medical Research organizations

What is a Nonprofit Organization?

Nonprofit organizations are businesses whose purpose is other than making a profit. Profit-making is not impossible for nonprofit organizations. Employees are paid through donations, and other operating expenses are covered through donations as well. The organization, however, must use any excess funds it receives to further its objectives if it brings in more money than it needs to operate. Profits from a nonprofit research organization, for instance, can be used to expand the scope of its research or hire more researchers.

There are three types of non-profit organizations: trusts, corporations, and associations. Depending on the state, there may be different factors that determine whether your company can incorporate as a nonprofit. Not every nonprofit organization automatically becomes tax-exempt after it is incorporated. Separately you must apply for tax exemption. The state and federal taxes associated with your nonprofit must still be paid.

Examples of nonprofit organizations include:

  • Amateur sports or Athletic teams
  • Homeowners' Association
  • Political Action Committees (PACs)
  • Labor Unions
  • Social and Recreational Clubs
  • Welfare Organizations
  • Fire Volunteer companies

How to Run a Charity Organization?

Here is a 10-step guide to starting your charity:

Be the change you want to see

Decide what you want to accomplish and why. Analyze the issue thoroughly - what caused it, how serious it is and how will it be resolved?

Determine the solution

Develop a unique solution that addresses your problem in a way that will be more effective than other efforts - and is likely to attract investment - if it is delivered through your new charity. Investigate whether charities, institutes, statutory bodies, local groups, or global NGOs are already trying to solve this problem.

Plan your 3-10 year journey

Describe your activities in your first year. In what way and when will you be active? In what way will you reach your goals? Would you like to launch immediately?

Organize your fundraising efforts

What will be the source of the funds, how will they be raised, and how much will you need to launch the project?

Consult the Institute of Fundraising or similar charities for what has worked for them. Depending on your situation, you might decide to solicit individual donations, donations from charitable foundations, or donations from companies. Assess the amount and timing of each donation. To raise funds, consider how will you invest and who will underwrite those investments?

Find a business finance mentor who offers free services

Pay attention to both the big picture and the details - the effects of VAT, cash flow, and investment. Creating an unregistered charity will give you more flexibility, less administration, and less regulation if your income is less than £5,000 annually. A registered charity must make detailed public information available about its activities, finances, trustees, impact, and more.

Consider your role carefully

Will you be a trustee? You must ensure that the charity's purpose is upheld as a non-executive director to the Charity Commission, as well as to Companies House as a non-executive director. Alternatively, will you be employed as a paid employee - an executive director, manager, or chief executive? Make sure you think this thoroughly. Ask those who had previously established charities on how they set it up and how they did it.

Communication expertise is needed

Your message needs to be communicated effectively to your target audience. You'll be able to improve the support plan, communication and engage supporters, volunteers, and employees following this discussion. You'll also be able to figure out what you want to accomplish.

Consider your brand and name

In order to be seen by potential donors, volunteers, partners, and beneficiaries, you need a clear and compelling brand. Take the time to think about your charity's slogan, descriptions, your website's "about us" section, your logo, colors, media use, and Twitter handle - as all of these are crucial.

Is it necessary to set up a charity?

There are 13 different charitable purposes to choose from and much more. Make sure you check out the Charity Commission's website.

Instead, consider setting up a community interest company or social enterprise. With both, you can accomplish much more with less restriction. You should be aware that some charities prefer not to give funds to these types of organizations because they are not perceived as having the charitable purpose and regulatory safeguards offered by charitable status.

Strive to succeed and be bold

There are certain obstacles along the way, and there are undoubtedly more to come. The rewards are worth it; however, if you're pursuing something you're passionate about, then that makes a real difference.

Differences between a Charity vs. a Nonprofit Organization

Is charity a non-profit organization? Nonprofit organizations are not all charities. But all charities are non-profit organizations. The following factors distinguish nonprofits from charities:

The organization's main purpose

Nonprofit organizations' primary function is to benefit those within them. Typical homeowners' associations use donated funds to help their members. Trade unions also raise funds for their support.

As opposed to this, a charity exists primarily to serve some humanitarian or philanthropic cause outside the charity. Groups of religious believers care for the spiritual and material needs of their members as well as for those of the community in which they reside. The animals under the care of animal welfare organizations are maintained safely, healthy, and protected.


In nonprofit organizations, profits and income are used to support the organization's mission. In addition to charitable, leisure, recreation, welfare, and civic improvement, it is not required to spend money. 

On the other hand, Charities are non-profit organizations whose activities benefit the community. Their primary function is to help others, and their expenses must be covered. Despite their differences, both non-profits and charities play a vital role in building better communities worldwide.


Recent Articles