509(a) Section of the Internal Revenue Service Code that defines public charities (as opposed to private foundations). Note that 501(c)(3) and 509(a) are not mutually exclusive terms; a 501(c)(3) organization may also have a 509(a) designation to define the agency as a public charity.
501(c)(3) status is granted by the Internal Revenue Service. It is not enough that the organization "has no money" or "does not make a profit" or that it is registered with the State Corporate Division as Nonprofit or it has submitted an application to the IRS but has not yet received a determination letter. In addition to 501(c)(3), the organization must be determined by the IRS to be a public charity and not a private foundation under 509 (a).
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