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Non-Profit Essentials

What are 501(c)(6) Organizations?


Most chambers are 501c(6) organizations. This non-profit status allows the chamber to lobby and legally endorse candidates for public office. It also allows the chamber to undertake supporting business activities (referred to as “unrelated business income") – publishing, trade shows, insurance programs, etc. Many chambers also establish 501c(3) foundations so that they can recieve donations that are tax deductible. Read more on the About Chambers of Commerce page.

"The IRS allows 501(c)(3)s to engage in lobbying only as long as it is not a “substantial part” of their activities. As the “substantial part” definition is rather ambiguous, public charities that lobby should understand the monetary parameters for what constitutes “substantial.” 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations and 501(c)(6) trade associations may engage in Lobbying activities without limits; in fact, that can be one of their main functions." - BoardSource


Record-Keeping Guidelines


Most chambers are 501(c)(6) non-profit organizations and are required to adhere to the IRS guidelines for record keeping. Non-profit organizations are required to file 990's, which are publicly available GuideStar.org. Document retention policies are one of several good governance policies that the IRS highlights on the IRS Form 990. Retention periods vary for different types of records or documents and nonprofit organizations should have a written, mandatory policy for document retention and destruction.

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Last Updated: 6/14/2018

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