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What Is a Charitable Organization?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2014
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A charitable organization is an organization that is focused on working for the common good of a community or group. One of the hallmarks of a charitable organization is NPO (non-profit organization) status. There are hundreds of types of such organizations around the world that range widely in terms of focus and reach. For example, a charitable organization might focus entirely on improving the writing and communication skills of youth in just one city. On the other hand, a charitable organization might work to prevent the spread of HIV in dozens of countries around the world.

The rules that govern some of the operations of a charitable organization vary from country to country. These rules may also vary depending on the type of work that a charitable organization does. There are different laws that govern these kinds of organizations and there are also different manners in which taxes related to these kinds of organizations are assessed and treated. Many of these rules are set up so that charitable organizations are able to function as productively as possible and serve the common good to the fullest extent of their abilities. At the same time, these rules are also in place to make sure that the exceptions and exemptions provided to charitable organizations are not abused by dishonest organizations that are interested in profiting from these benefits without following through on a mission to work for the greater good.

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The laws that govern charitable organizations vary from country to country. There are many countries, however, that for the most part agree on the kinds of work that define a charitable organization. For example, many countries acknowledge organizations that work to relieve people from the pains of poverty, improve educational resources and experiences, or somehow work to improve the health of a population as charitable organizations. It is also common for countries to recognize a religious organization as a charitable organization.

Other types of organizations that are sometimes viewed as charitable organizations are those that work to preserve or advance arts and culture, those that work to improve human rights, and those that work to protect animals from abuses. Just as with many other types of charitable organizations, those that fall into these categories may be small and locally focused or quite large with an international reach. There are also organizations that fall between these two extremes that may be, for example, state-wide or national organizations.

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Discuss this Article

anon938791
Post 5

Would a search and rescue volunteer group be considered a charitable organization?

golf07
Post 3

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of an organization like this is a Christian charitable organization.

I have always been active in my church and also belong to a Christian motorcycle association. Any money that I donate to something like this can be claimed on my taxes.

Every year they send me a statement showing the amount of money I have donated over the course of the year.

This isn't the reason I support organizations like this, but it is nice to be able to take this deduction off my taxes every year.

SarahSon
Post 2

I volunteer every week with high risk teenage kids. This involves an after school program that focuses on helping them with their homework, developing life skills and giving them constructive alternatives for their time.

This is a private charitable organization that does not rely on any government funding. Everything is supported by private donations.

In a tough economy you wonder how long something like this can make it, but this organization seems to be growing and working with more kids every year.

It is rewarding to see the changes in the lives of these kids. Many of them are here from another country, and even learning English was a challenge for them.

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