The standard of primary purpose used in the definitions in the text below requires that the organization be both organized and operated for the primary purpose. Organizations that incidentally engage in qualifying activities do not meet the primary purpose test.
A religious organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to:
- Conduct religious worship (e.g., churches, synagogues, temples, or mosques);
- Support the religious activities of nonprofit organizations whose primary purpose is to conduct religious worship; or
- Further the teaching of particular religious faiths or tenets, including religious instruction and the dissemination of religious information.
An educational organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the instruction or training of individuals for improving or developing their capabilities or the instruction of the public on subjects beneficial to the community. An organization may be educational even though it advocates a particular position or viewpoint, as long as it presents a sufficiently full and fair exposition of the pertinent facts to permit the formation of an independent opinion or conclusion. Conversely, an organization is not considered educational if its principal function is the mere presentation of unsupported opinion. These are examples of educational organizations:
- An organization (e.g., a primary or secondary school, a college, or a professional or trade school) that has a regularly scheduled curriculum, a regular faculty, and a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at a place where educational activities are regularly carried on.
- An organization whose activities consist of presenting public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures, or similar programs, including on radio or television.
- An organization that presents a course of instruction by correspondence or through the use of television or radio.
- Museums, zoos, planetariums, symphony orchestras, and similar organizations.
A scientific organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is to conduct research in the applied, pure, or natural sciences or to disseminate technical information dealing with the applied, pure, or natural sciences.
A philanthropic (charitable) organization is a nonprofit organization organized and operated to benefit the public. Examples include those that are organized to relieve the poor, distressed, or underprivileged; to advance religion, education, or science; to erect or maintain public buildings, monuments, or works; to lessen the burdens of government; or to promote social welfare for any of the above purposes or to lessen neighborhood tensions, eliminate prejudice and discrimination, defend human and civil rights secured by law, or combat community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. That an organization organized and operated to relieve indigent persons may receive voluntary contributions from those persons does not necessarily make it ineligible for Nonprofit Standard Mail prices as a philanthropic organization. That an organization, in carrying out its primary purpose, advocates social or civic changes or presents ideas on controversial issues to influence public opinion and sentiment to accept its views, does not necessarily make it ineligible for Nonprofit Standard Mail prices as a philanthropic organization.
An agricultural organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the betterment of the conditions of those engaged in agricultural pursuits, the improvement of the grade of their products, and the development of a higher degree of efficiency in agriculture; or the collection and dissemination of information or materials about agriculture. The organization may further and advance agricultural interests through educational activities; by holding agricultural fairs; by collecting and disseminating information about cultivation of the soil and its fruits or the harvesting of marine resources; by rearing, feeding, and managing livestock, poultry, bees, etc.; or by other activities related to agricultural interests.
A labor organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is the betterment of the conditions of workers. Labor organizations include, but are not limited to, organizations in which employees or workers participate, whose primary purpose is to deal with employers on grievances, labor disputes, wages, hours of employment, working conditions, etc. (e.g., labor unions and employee associations).
A veterans' organization is a nonprofit organization of veterans of the armed services of the United States, or an auxiliary unit or society of, or a trust or foundation for, any such post or organization.
A fraternal organization is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is fostering fellowship and mutual benefits among its members. For this standard, a qualified fraternal organization must also be organized under a lodge or chapter system with a representative form of government; must follow a ritualistic format; and must be composed of members elected to membership by vote of the members. Qualifying fraternal organizations include the Masons, Knights of Columbus, Elks, and college fraternities or sororities, and may have members of either or both sexes. Fraternal organizations do not encompass such organizations as business leagues, professional associations, civic associations, or social clubs.