Skip to Main Content

Nonprofit Organizations Law: A Beginner's Guide

A research guide regarding the laws governing nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, including creation, registration, taxation, and governance.


Frederick Duncan, artist. "A man may be down but he's never out!" Home Service Fund Campaign - Salvation Army - May 19-26, 1919. 1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Nonprofit organizations have become a critical part of American culture. In fact, in 2018, the nonprofit sector was the third-largest employer in America External, with nonprofit workers making up approximately 10.2% of the total U.S. workforce [PDF] External.1

It is no wonder, then, that information about the law regarding nonprofits is one of our most popular public requests at the Law Library of Congress. Patrons appear to be most concerned with how to create a nonprofit organization, how to deal with taxation issues, and how to properly govern a nonprofit organization (or deal with management conflicts as they arise). Thus, we will recommend sources on all of these issues, as well as provide information about internet resources that can assist those interested in nonprofit organizations and the laws that govern them.


Links in the following note(s) will take researchers to external website links.

  1. This link connects to a Johns Hopkins University – Nonprofit Employment Data (JHU-NED) report. The work of the JHU-NED has been continued by the Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University External. Back to text