Pep Talk: How to Acquire Nonprofit Status

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I throw benefit concerts every month for different organizations in need. I’m currently working on acquiring 501(c)(3) status. How do I get media coverage?

—T. Thomas
New Orleans

A detailed plan and purpose will help as you seek 501(c)(3) status, which allows for federal tax exemption, tax-deductible contributions, and an opportunity to apply for grants. To qualify, the organization must be structured and operated exclusively for religious, educational, charitable, or other purposes described at www.irs.gov (search keyword: Publication 557 for full eligibility info). And visit BlackEnterprise.com to read “A Call to Serve: Four steps to starting a no-nonsense nonprofit.”

Andrew Wadium, media relations director at black enterprise, recommends contacting your local Associated Press (www.ap.org). Each bureau has a Daybook, noting legitimate events happening each day, so e-mail them and your local television and radio stations a media alert with the who, what, when, where and why they should cover it. Wadium adds that it isn’t a bad idea to invite a local journalist to your events as an MC or guest. Check out: Public Relations for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons Inc.; $19.99) by Eric Yaverbaum, and You Want Caviar, But Have Money for Chitlins: A Smart Do-It-Yourself PR Guide for Those On a Budget (TaylorMade Media Books; $15.95) by Karen Taylor Bass.

This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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