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Nonprofit Law/Church members asking for donations for church projectds


Iím a member of a 501c3 church group that has members all over the country. There is a non-church-sponsored email group made up of many members of the church (not all).  

Occasionally someone will put out a posting asking if anyone wants to donate money to have some small project done, usually at our national church headquarters.  It's usually some beautification project or similar.  Occasionally, it's someone asking if anyone would like to help some member who is in need. None of these solicitations are "official," ie, they are not endorsed or put out by the national board.

The president of the national board often responds to these solicitations by telling people not to do that, and if they do, they could be jeopardizing our IRS tax exempt status.  Doesn't sound right to me.  What do you think?

The notices should make it clear that they are not from the church and that donations to help a member are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.  As to charitable deductions, see IRS Publication 526 "Charitable Donations"  which is available at:
on page 6 where the IRS lists as not deductible "Contributions to individuals who are needy or worthy. This includes contributions to a qualified organization if you indicate that your  contribution is for a specific person."

But, since the email group is not a church entity, communications on it will not jeopardize the church exemption. If you show my answer to the president of the national board and he or she does not believe me, then ask for a citation to the law and I will then respond to it.

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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