Does the Preparation of Material Follow Methods Generally Accepted as Educational in Character?

There is little guidance on this element of the four-part test set out in Revenue Ruling 67-4, although one General Counsel Memorandum from 1982 indicates that that the following facts support a finding that a publication is prepared in an "educational" manner:
  1. the organization is run by experts in the relevant field;
  2. the selection process for articles depends on their educational value rather than commercial appeal;
  3. the articles focus on issues of public policy rather than issues of mass appeal; and
  4. the articles are written by leading authors, journalists, professors and educators. [FN1]

Considering these factors, investigative news organizations and organizations that conduct expert statistical research or analysis are likely to fare better than news organizations publishing articles of general public appeal. If an applicant has highly-trained journalists, researchers, or other experts on staff, it will be important to call that fact to the IRS's attention.

The IRS has denied at least one 501(c)(3) application from a newspaper because (among other reasons) it found the paper's staff to be indistinguishable from that of an ordinary newsroom, stating: "The newspaper operates with a paid staff. The staff has no special skills and abilities than those that are generally found on the staff of any other newspaper."  [FN2]


1 I.R.S. Gen. Couns. Mem. 38,845 (May 4, 1982).
2 Rev. Rul. 77-4, 1977-1 C.B. 141.


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