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Nonprofit Law/Fundraising for non for profit school


Thank you for your time! We are running a non for profit language school and thinking to sell cookies/snacks...for raising money for school during school time. I was not sure if this is called "for Profit" activity, is this legal?

I have in my profile that this free forum is only for general questions about IRS federal exemption issues of 501(c)(3) organizations. Therefore, I am assuming you are referring to such an organization.

The first question is whether the activity would be considered by the IRS as a "unrelated activity". IRS Publication 598 "Tax on Unrelated Business Income of Exempt Organizations" at explains that,  if products or services are not directly related to the charitable, educational, religious or other purpose or function constituting the basis for its exemption (other than for production of income), then the activities are generally taxable.

Food service for the convenience of the students and staff generally would not be considered to be unrelated business activity.  For example, in the middle column of page 5 of that IRS publication we see:
--- Start of excerpt ---
An exempt art museum operates a dining room, a cafeteria, and a snack bar for use by the museum staff, employees, and visitors. Eating facilities in the museum help to attract visitors and allow them to spend more time viewing the museum's exhibits without having to seek outside restaurants at mealtime.  The  eating  facilities  also  allow  the  museum  staff  and  employees  to  remain  in  the
museum  throughout  the  day.  Thus,  the  museum's operation of the eating facilities contributes  importantly  to  the  accomplishment  of  its exempt purposes and is not unrelated trade or business
--- End of excerpt ---

In order for me to give you definitive advice I would need to gather many details from you and that would beyond the scope of my offer of free services. I have in my profile in my forum at the free service that I offer is only for questions directly related to IRS exempt purpose issues of 501(c)(3) organizations.

If you want to hire me for a written legal opinion, send me an email directly to my email address below and I will quote you my fees.  

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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