Proving Nonprofit Status

Proving Nonprofit Status

How Can I Prove that My Church is a Non-Profit?


There are many reasons why a local congregation of the UCC may want to document its status as a nonprofit charitable entity under chapter 501 (c) 3 of the IRS code.

Some for-profit corporations offer benefits to charitable organizations.  These may include discounts on products or services; matching grants for employee donations to the charitable organization;  or fundraising opportunities.  These for-profit donors require proof of nonprofit status.

Similarly, churches applying for grants from foundations or other entities are often asked to prove their nonprofit status.

To determine which organizations should receive their discounts or grants, some companies rely primarily on a national database of nonprofits.  The database is derived from filings of IRS Form 990, which is required of most nonprofits annually.   Churches are not required to file IRS Form 990.  So, that easy route to recognition as a nonprofit is does not generally work for churches.

If a donor company does not accept any other proof of nonprofit status, churches are not eligible for the benefits the company may provide.

However, many for-profit corporations and grant-makers will accept a blanket letter from the IRS affirming the nonprofit status of the United Church of Christ and all its local churches. They may require that this blanket letter be accompanied by a letter from the National setting indicating that the specific local congregation in question is a member church of the UCC. 

Any local church may obtain both of these letters by contacting Cindy Gaffney in the National office of the UCC  (

All documentation of your church’s nonprofit status should be kept in easily-accessible permanent records, along with your bylaws and documentation of incorporation, if you are incorporated.  It is also helpful to keep multiple copies of your State sales tax exemption certificate on hand, so you can easily provide them to people who are making purchases on behalf of your church.


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