What Percentage of Revenue To Non-Profits Have To Distribute?

Nonprofit organizations in the United States are generally required to distribute a minimum percentage of their revenue, particularly if they have tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. This requirement is commonly referred to as the “minimum distribution requirement” and is intended to ensure that these organizations engage in charitable activities and do not hoard their resources.

The specific minimum distribution requirement for 501(c)(3) organizations is that they must annually distribute at least 5% of the average fair market value of their non-exempt assets for charitable purposes. Here are some important points to understand:

  1. **Calculation Basis:** The 5% distribution requirement is calculated based on the average fair market value of the organization’s non-exempt assets. This value is typically determined over a rolling 12-month period.
  1. **Charitable Activities:** The distribution must be used for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, or other purposes that qualify for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3). This includes grants to other charitable organizations, direct charitable activities, and program-related investments.
  1. **Penalties for Noncompliance:** Failure to meet the 5% minimum distribution requirement can result in excise taxes imposed on the organization. Specifically, the IRS may impose an excise tax of 30% on the undistributed amount that should have been distributed.
  1. **Carryover Provisions:** In some cases, a nonprofit organization may be allowed to carry over excess distributions from one year to the next to help meet the minimum requirement in future years.
  1. **Private Foundations:** Private foundations, a specific type of 501(c)(3) organization, have a more stringent requirement. They are generally required to distribute annually at least 5% of the average fair market value of their non-exempt assets, with certain adjustments, but are subject to additional excise taxes for not meeting this requirement.

It’s important to note that the 5% minimum distribution requirement is a floor, not a ceiling. Nonprofit organizations are free to distribute more than 5% of their assets for charitable purposes, and many do so to advance their missions and address pressing needs in their communities. Visit www.thegrantportal.com.

Nonprofits should carefully track their distributions, maintain appropriate records, and ensure that their activities align with their charitable purposes to meet both legal requirements and their organizational goals. Consulting with legal and financial professionals experienced in nonprofit compliance is advisable to navigate these regulations effectively.


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