You are here:

Nonprofit Law/501(c) 3 engaged in other activities


Can a non profit group with a 501(c) 3 issued in the state of California, under performing arts legally use that same number in the state of Florida as an animal rescue group?

It appears that you are referring to a 501(c)(3) organization that was incorporated in California and is still considered active. If it registered in Florida under what is called "domestication" it is allowed to do business in that State.  I will direct you to which I just found as to
"domestication" of foreign not-for-profits.

The corporation may be engaged in animal rescue operations in California or Florida as long as its Board of Directors authorizes the activities. Even though you explained that the organization was incorporated "under performing arts", all 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in other activities that are qualified activities for 501(c)(3) organizations.  

An "ultra vires" act is one beyond the purposes or powers of a corporation, but the principal of ultra vires is largely obsolete because, when 501(c)(3) organizations are established, according to the states nonprofit corporation law they are allowed to engage in any activities allowed for 501(c)(3) organizations. Notably, many articles of incorporation have a clauses giving the corporation wide scope to act. I use them for 501(c)(3) organizations that I incorporate, For example, after listing specific purposes, I would have:
--- Start of Excerpt ---
    c. To engage in all activities necessary, useful or expedient, through operative measures permitted by the California Public Benefit Corporation Law and Section 501 (c)(3) of the  Internal Revenue Code to promote the above mentioned purposes.
---End of Excerpt---

But, generally, even if there is no such clause in the articles of incorporation, wide latitude is granted by the states.  See, the Free Dictionary regarding the concept of ultra vires, "State laws in almost every jurisdiction have also sharply reduced the importance of the ultra vires doctrine. For example, section 3.04(a) of the Revised Model Business Corporation Act, drafted in 1984, states that "the validity of corporate action may not be challenged on the ground that the corporation lacks or lacked power to act."

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.  

Nonprofit Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Harvey Mechanic


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.

©2016 All rights reserved.