[hackerspaces] 501c3 and hackerspaces in the US

Buddy Smith buddy.smith at ieee.org
Thu Jul 5 22:02:32 CEST 2012

Hi Everyone.

I'm hear to ask questions to my fellow hackerspaces in the US. I'm
sorry if this is off topic for those that are not in the US.

Our local hackerspace is looking at becoming a 501c3, independent of
any other entity.

Is your hackerspace a 501c3? How does it affect the day to day
operations of your space? Are there limitations on the use of donated
versus non-donated funds? (Donations vs dues and class fees, etc)?

Are any US hackerspaces 501c7? That is designed for social clubs, and
may more closely fit the model of many hackerspaces.

One of the arguments being put forth is that members must not work on
individual projects, because that would be a benefit to the member
versus the public, and somehow violate the 501c3 rules.

(anonymous quote)
Basically, as a 501c3 organization, if there is an action that
benefits one or few members, it needs to be limited to a small portion
of the overall actions of a 501c3 in order to retain tax exempt status
plus accepting tax-deductible donations from the general public.  The
rule is not set in stone, because individual 501c3s are so varied.
Generally, things that are not allowed include (but not limited to)
storage at below market rate, exclusive services to members (e.g.
full-service garage that isn't available to public), as well as
for-profit activities (ex. a significant portion of revenue from
selling t-shirts that were silk-screened on site).
(end quote)

There's more to it, but this is sufficient to start the discussion. I
look forward to reading your responses, and bringing them back to my


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