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/ Ask Entrepreneur

Can I Add Not-for-Profit Outreach to My Existing Business?

I run benefits for local individuals in my community, and I would really like to put a name on this charity work and use my for-profit company as a permanent sponsor. Can I do this and still be legal or do I have to file a 401(c)3?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More and more, small businesses are looking for ways to enhance their visibility and share their values by taking a "socially conscious" approach and in getting involved in cause marketing. From a legal perspective, there's nothing that prevents your company from being a "sponsor" of good causes. The question becomes how you want this activity to be treated.

It's possible you could write it off as a marketing expense. However, if you want all of the time and money invested in "sponsorship" to be tax deductible as a charitable contribution, you'll run into some problems because your business has not been formed as a charitable organization, nor are the recipients of your sponsorship charitable organizations either. In addition, forming a 501(c)3 organization involves a fair amount of oversight and reporting, so it may be more trouble than it's worth. Best to speak with your tax advisor about your goals.

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