Pep Talk: How to Acquire Nonprofit Status

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 (search keyword: Publication 557 for full eligibility info). And visit 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 ( 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.