Is there a difference between a 501c3 and an association?
501(c)(3) is a tax exempt status granted by the IRS to qualified nonprofit organizations (most of them are nonprofit corporations) whose purposes include charity, religious, and educational (and a few other purposes).
The word “association” does not have a specific legal definition. Associations are a gathering of people for a cause. Associations are typically nonprofit organizations. They can be unincorporated or be formed as nonprofit corporations.
Some associations may qualify for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, some may not. For example I am a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs. It is a business association for CPAs in Ohio. It has tax exempt status as a 501(c)(6) business league, but not 501(c)(3) status.
If you’re confused by the words, nonprofit, association, 501(c)(3), this short video may help clear things up:
I hope that helps,
Carol Topp, CPA