I need an ELI5 on what is differentiates a nonprofit, charity, 503C and whatever other groups do things for the benefit of a “greater good” without the goal of “making money.” (Ie- WTF am I doing? Much confusion!)

There is a niche area that I want to add awareness of in the medical field. There is no other organization dedicated to it.

I have been on the board of one organization like this before for a rare disease.

To put it mildly, we had the least mandated people on the board as possible for that state and my entire tenure was gridlock and arguments.

I have zero interest of putting a board like this together. But what is my alternative to a similar organization? There MUST be SOMETHING right??

They relied on donations and some small sales. I would want do the same but expect more sales to fund it than donations in start up phase. I believe that you need the 501c3 to apply for grants but I’m not interesting in that right now. (It should take very little seed money to start.)

I seem to remember there being some rules about this years ago- sales in nonprofits being disallowed- but now even esteemed organizations like the Mayo (I think that’s the one?) sell ad space with appropriate disclaimers larger than most disclaimers.

I have experience raising funds for memorial scholarship programs. What are these technically called? How are they categorized? They were NOT 501c3s yet were not taxed (thankfully) due to the nature of the…. Well what even are they?? Charities??

Bonus question: I’ve also worked for counseling centers- some set up as 501C3 (I only knew from my 403B account) and some I had a 401k. I could honestly not spot many differences between them. They both offered the exact same services in different communities. And the 503C actually paid better. Any thoughts as to why 2 nearly identical corporations/organizations would be set up differently??

I know I need a lot explained. I appreciate your time!

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