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Nonprofit Law/501(c) Membership Gift


Our Soccer Booster Club used to require paid membership to the club to be eligible to apply for the booster club scholarship. Thanks to your information and knowledge that has since been removed from our Bylaws. Now every child is eligible for scholarship.

My question now is this...
Can a free gift be given with PAID membership into the booster club? Such as a free pair of socks as an incentive to get more people to pay for membership?

501(c)(3) booster organizations like other 501(c)(3) organizations may have memberships and provide something in return for paying members, such as socks, but the value of the socks and any other tangible benefits of membership are not deductible as charitable donations. See IRS Publication 526 "Charitable Donations" which is available at on page 4, first column, "You may be able to deduct membership fees or dues you pay to a qualified organization. However, you can deduct only the amount that is more than the value of the benefits you receive."

The 501(c)(3) organization must also disclose those items given in exchange for paid membership, if it is going to give a receipt (called by the IRS an "acknowledgment") of charitable donations. Details of the acknowledgement requirements are found in the IRS Publication 1771, which is the  IRS Publication "Charitable Contributions -- Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements" and it is available at

Note that the "scholarship" selection committee may not use membership as a positive factor in their decisions as to the grants to families.

I appreciate your appreciation of my free information that caused your group to amend its bylaws.  That gives me more enthusiasm to continue with this pro bono work.

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. For me to consider your individual situation and how the law applies, I would need to gather more information.

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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.

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