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The differences between a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4)

Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York (PPCWNY) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under the federal tax code. 501(c)(3)s often provide direct services to their target population—such as health care—and raise public awareness of their cause, often including teaching and training—like PPCWNY’s education and outreach programs.

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations cannot intervene in elections and cannot endorse any candidate or issue that is a proxy for a candidate.

Gifts to 501(c)(3) organizations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. In contrast, 501(c)(4) organizations exist to advance “social welfare” through issue advocacy and lobbying activity. 501(c)(4)s are also able to engage in a limited amount of electoral activity. While both 501(c)(3)s and 501(c)(4)s can coordinate voter registration, get-out-the-vote campaigns, and educate the public about issues, 501(c)(4)s can engage in unlimited lobbying for or against legislation, support or oppose ballot measures, and endorse political candidates that align with their missions. Donations to 501(c)(4) organizations are not tax-deductible.

Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts (PPESA) is a 501(c)(4) organization in New York State and actively works to advance access to sexual health care and defend reproductive rights.


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