For fund development efforts, Main Street organizations have no better tool than the Internal Revenue Service’s designation as a 501 (c) 3 organization. Lately some communities have struggled for it, trying hard to clarify the nuances of how Main Street groups pursue their goals so that they are not designated as economic development or membership organizations.
It gets tricky; those nuances are many. But they are fundamental ,and they affect organizational bylaws, articles of incorporation, mission and operations.
Fortunately, the National Trust Main Street Center just ran an article by a D.C. based attorney well versed in the Main Street world. Read Andrea C. Ferster’s article, Getting a Green Light from the IRS for an overview of what makes Main Street organizations community benefit nonprofits and what you can do to avoid IRS pitfalls.
If your downtown has a community-based group desiring nonprofit status in order to pursue Main Street goals, contact Main Street Program Manager Jeff Sadler.