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Nonprofit Law/Non-profit corporation v. unincorporated non-profit ass.


Mr. Mechanic
I am attempting to help some likeminded parents at my children's grammar school in CA to create a non-profit to raise funds for our school.
I am wondering if there is any reason to shield the prospective directors and officers through incorporation.
I have helped a few sports related organizations gain 501c3 status and felt that incorporation was prudent in light of the physical dangers inherent in the organizations activities.

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions relating to IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations. Your issue is controlled by state law and states may differ somewhat with how they would treat such issues. Even though this forum is not for such state law issues, I may be able to direct you:

Directors and officers of unincorporated nonprofit associations in California have certain liability protection. See 18605 of the California Corporations Code, "A member, director, or agent of a nonprofit association is not liable for a debt, obligation, or liability of the association solely by reason of being a member, director, officer, or agent."

You would also be interested to read down at 18620.  

I don't see any additional protection offered by incorporation, but you can check with a California attorney.  I am a New York attorney. If you find some case law in California that gives directors and officers of a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation more protection than they would find with an unincorporated nonprofit association, please share that with me so that I can then give that information to others writing from California with similar questions.

Harvey Mechanic,
Attorney at Law

P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.  

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Harvey Mechanic


DO NOT GIVE ME INFORMATION THAT YOU WANT KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. I am an attorney and I volunteer time to answer general questions about U.S. Federal income tax issues of nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charities only. Those questions could be about establishing and maintaining legal requirements for such non-profit organizations in the United States, including Internal Revenue service filings and requirements. I will not be working on this free forum to answer questions about Nonprofit's possible unrelated or for-profit businesses or how to fill out forms. This forum is only for general questions about federal tax law, not as the law applies to your specific situation. If you do not make your question public then I will not be spending much of my donated time on answers that would not benefit the public. If you have other questions, please contact me at I will reply from my email. In any case, do not reveal confidential information to me until after I have contracted with you to provide personal legal services. My responses on this forum are intended to be general statements of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice, and do not create an attorney/client relationship. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather extensive information about the situation. To search my previous answers you can do a Google search by "" without the quotes and then add your search terms before hitting enter.


I have been practicing law and especially the law of nonprofit organizations since 1990 when I was admitted to the New York Bar and I have maintained my status with the Bar since that time.


B.S. Columbia University in New York City, 1970

J.D. (Law Degree) Brooklyn Law School, 1990 -- Cum Laude.

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