A Guide to Nonprofits in Arizona

by | May 20, 2023 | Causes & Nonprofits

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Arizona’s thriving nonprofit sector. This page is designed to serve as your go-to resource for understanding, engaging with, and supporting nonprofits in our state. Whether you’re looking to volunteer, donate, or simply learn more about the impactful work being done in our communities, this guide aims to assist and inspire you in your journey.

What is a Nonprofit?

Nonprofits, also known as not-for-profit organizations, are entities that are dedicated to furthering a specific social cause or advocating for a shared point of view. Unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofits reinvest any surplus they generate back into their mission, not distributing it to owners or shareholders. In this section, we will dive deeper into the structure, purpose, and mission of nonprofits, giving you a clear understanding of their role and impact in our society.

Nonprofit Categories

Nonprofits span a wide array of sectors, each serving different aspects of our community’s needs. From health and wellness organizations to environmental conservation groups, from education-focused entities to those advocating for human rights – the nonprofit landscape is vast and diverse. In this section, we’ll explore various categories or themes of nonprofits, helping you to understand the multifaceted nature of their work.”

Social Services

This theme encompasses nonprofits that provide direct assistance to people in need. These organizations often address issues related to poverty, homelessness, and family services, including food security, housing, and adult education. They serve vulnerable populations and strive to provide a safety net for individuals and families who are facing hardship.

Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief: Nonprofits in this category respond to emergencies and natural disasters, providing immediate aid and long-term recovery assistance.

Hunger and Poverty: These organizations work to alleviate hunger and poverty through services such as food banks, meal delivery programs, and advocacy for economic policies that reduce poverty.

Housing and Community Development: These nonprofits focus on creating affordable housing, revitalizing neighborhoods, and promoting sustainable community development.

Family Services: Organizations in this category offer a wide range of support for families, including counseling, domestic violence support, parenting education, and childcare services.

Adult Education and Literacy: These nonprofits provide adult learning opportunities, such as GED preparation, English language learning, vocational training, and literacy programs.

Homeless Services: Nonprofits in this category work to address homelessness through services like temporary shelters, permanent supportive housing, and homelessness prevention programs.

Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention: These organizations offer treatment services for individuals struggling with substance abuse and conduct prevention and education initiatives.

Veterans’ Services and Military Families: These nonprofits provide resources and support for veterans and their families, including career transition assistance, mental health services, and family support programs.

St. Mary’s Food Bank: One of the largest food banks in the United States, St. Mary’s Food Bank serves to alleviate hunger through the gathering and distribution of food in Phoenix and other Arizona communities.

Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS): CASS works to empower individuals with diverse needs to end their homelessness by providing shelter and supportive services.

Health and Wellness

Nonprofits in this theme focus on enhancing public health and providing medical services or promoting wellness. They can include organizations dedicated to researching diseases, promoting mental health awareness, and providing support for individuals with disabilities. These organizations might operate clinics, conduct biomedical research, or engage in advocacy and education to promote health and wellness.

Health: Health nonprofits work in various areas, such as providing healthcare services, advocating for patient rights, and promoting health and wellness in communities.

Mental Health and Crisis Intervention: These organizations offer support for mental health issues, including counseling services, suicide prevention hotlines, and crisis intervention services.

Disease Research and Policy: Nonprofits in this category conduct research on diseases and advocate for health policies and funding that support disease prevention and treatment.

Disabilities Services: These organizations support individuals with disabilities, offering services like adaptive activities, therapy, job training, and advocacy for disability rights.

Banner Health: A nonprofit health system, Banner Health operates multiple hospitals and other medical services across several states, including many facilities in Arizona.

TGen, Translational Genomics Research Institute: A Phoenix-based nonprofit biomedical research institute, TGen seeks to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases.

Education and Youth Development

These nonprofits are focused on fostering learning and development. They can range from academic institutions to extracurricular programs for youth. They strive to provide educational opportunities, promote literacy, prepare youths for the workforce, and facilitate personal growth and leadership. They might provide tutoring, run after-school programs, or give scholarships.

Education: Nonprofits in this category provide educational services and resources, ranging from traditional classroom instruction to out-of-school programs.

Youth Development and Services: These organizations offer programs that support the social, emotional, and physical development of children and teens.

Workforce Development and Job Training: These nonprofits focus on equipping individuals with the skills and resources they need for employment.

Science and Technology Education: Nonprofits in this category promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through programs like robotics competitions, coding camps, and science fairs.

Arizona Science Center: The Arizona Science Center in Phoenix is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring, educating, and engaging curious minds through science.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley: They provide after-school and summer programs where young people can be safe and productive, and offer a range of activities to help them develop healthy, successful lives.

Human Rights and Advocacy

This theme is centered around organizations that strive to uphold and advance the rights of individuals or groups. They work in various sectors such as legal advocacy, civil liberties, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s rights. They aim to ensure fair treatment for everyone, regardless of their background, identity, or circumstances, and might engage in litigation, policy advocacy, or public education.

Human Rights/Civil Liberties: These organizations work to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties, often through advocacy, litigation, and public education.

Legal Aid and Advocacy: Nonprofits in this category provide free or low-cost legal services to those who cannot afford it, advocating for equal access to justice.

Women’s Rights and Services: These organizations promote gender equality and provide services to support women’s health, safety, and economic empowerment.

Immigrant and Refugee Services: Nonprofits in this category provide support for immigrants and refugees, offering services like legal assistance, language classes, and cultural orientation.

Arizona Foundation for Women: The Arizona Foundation for Women supports initiatives that improve the lives of women and children in the state through social, political, and economic change.

International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Phoenix: This branch of the IRC helps refugees newly arrived in the United States to restart their lives, offering services such as job placement and training, English language classes, and help navigating key government, health, and educational resources.

Environment and Animals

These nonprofits are dedicated to protecting the environment and ensuring the welfare of animals. They include conservation organizations, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and environmental education programs. They aim to safeguard biodiversity, promote sustainable practices, and educate the public about the importance of environmental stewardship.

Environment/Conservation: Nonprofits in this category work to protect and conserve the environment, advocating for sustainable practices and policies.

Animal Welfare: These organizations promote the well-being of animals, offering services like animal rescue, cruelty prevention, and veterinary care.

Environmental Education and Outdoor Learning: Nonprofits in this category provide educational programs that foster an understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: A world-renowned zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum focuses on the natural history, plants, and animals of the Sonoran Desert region.

Liberty Wildlife: Liberty Wildlife is dedicated to the conservation of native Arizona wildlife through rehabilitation of injured and orphaned animals, and educational outreach.

Arts, Culture, and Recreation

This theme includes organizations that enrich community life through arts, culture, and recreational activities. They might run art education programs, operate museums or theaters, host cultural festivals, or manage community sports programs. They aim to promote creativity, preserve cultural heritage, and provide opportunities for community engagement and personal enjoyment.

Arts and Culture: These nonprofits support various forms of artistic expression and cultural heritage, often operating venues like museums, theaters, and galleries.

Sports and Recreation: Nonprofits in this category promote physical activity and sportsmanship through youth sports programs, recreational leagues, and fitness initiatives.

Local Community Improvement & Capacity Building: These organizations work to improve local communities, promoting volunteerism, neighborhood beautification, independent businesses, and local economic development.

Arizona Theatre Company: The Arizona Theatre Company is the preeminent professional theater in the state, offering a rich array of productions and educational programs.

Phoenix Art Museum: The Southwest’s premier destination for world-class visual arts, the Phoenix Art Museum has provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona for more than 60 years.

Public Safety and Community Services

These nonprofits work to safeguard community well-being and provide essential community services. They may focus on public safety, disaster preparedness and response, services for the elderly, or child protection. They strive to create safer, healthier, and more supportive communities, and might provide services like emergency response, elder care, or child abuse prevention.

Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness and Relief: Nonprofits in this category work to enhance public safety, offering disaster preparedness education, emergency response training, and relief services.

Aging/Elderly/Senior Citizens’ Issues: These organizations support the needs of older adults, providing services like meal delivery, companionship programs, and advocacy for seniors’ rights.

Child Abuse Prevention and Services: Nonprofits in this category work to prevent child abuse and support affected children and families, providing services like counseling, advocacy, and education.

The 100 Club of Arizona: The 100 Club of Arizona provides financial assistance to public safety officers and firefighters when they are injured or killed in the line of duty, and provides resources to enhance their safety and welfare.

Arizona Helping Hands: Arizona Helping Hands provides essential needs for children in foster care through programs promoting safety, permanency, and health.

Selecting a Nonprofit

Finding a nonprofit that resonates with your personal values and passions can enhance your involvement and commitment. But with so many worthy causes out there, how do you decide which one to support? This section will guide you through the process of identifying a nonprofit that aligns with your interests, values, and personal or professional goals.


Start by reflecting on your personal interests, passions, and values. What causes are you most passionate about? Which social issues do you care about most? Your personal interests can often guide you towards the type of nonprofit that will best align with your values.


Once you have an idea about your areas of interest, begin researching nonprofits that work in those sectors. Use online databases like GuideStar, Charity Navigator, or the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to find information about nonprofits’ mission, programs, financials, and impact.


Follow the nonprofits you are interested in on social media platforms and subscribe to their newsletters. This will help you keep updated on their activities, achievements, and challenges. You’ll also get to know their communication style and how they engage with their community.


Volunteering your time is a great way to get hands-on experience with a nonprofit. This will allow you to see the organization’s mission in action, meet the people involved, and understand the beneficiaries’ needs. If physical volunteering is not possible, consider virtual volunteering opportunities.

Events and Webinars: 

Attend events, webinars, and workshops organized by the nonprofits. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about their work and interact with staff, volunteers, and other supporters.


Talk to people who are already involved in nonprofit work. This can include employees, volunteers, board members, or donors of nonprofits. They can provide valuable insights from their experiences.

Courses and Books

Consider taking courses or reading books about nonprofit management and social entrepreneurship. This can help you understand the sector better and identify your areas of interest.

Remember, it’s okay to take your time in this process. As you learn more, your understanding of your interests and how you can contribute will evolve. The key is to stay open, curious, and willing to explore different possibilities.

Getting Involved

Supporting a nonprofit can take many forms beyond financial contributions. From volunteering your time to advocating for the cause, there are numerous ways to make a positive impact. In this section, we’ll explore the different ways individuals can contribute to and get involved with their chosen nonprofits, empowering you to make a difference in a way that feels meaningful to you.

Monetary donations are often the most direct way to support a nonprofit. Even small amounts can make a big difference. Many nonprofits also appreciate in-kind donations, which could include items like food, clothing, or supplies relevant to the organization’s mission.


Offering your time and skills can be invaluable to a nonprofit. This could mean anything from helping out at an event, to offering professional skills like marketing, design, or legal advice. Check with the organization to see what volunteer opportunities they have available.


If you can’t donate directly, consider raising funds for the nonprofit. This could involve organizing a charity run, setting up a crowdfunding campaign, or even just encouraging friends and family to donate. Many nonprofits offer tools and resources to help supporters fundraise.


Use your voice to spread the word about the cause. This could involve social media advocacy, speaking to local politicians, or simply sharing the organization’s work with your network. Advocacy helps raise awareness and can attract more support for the organization.

Attend Events: 

Participating in nonprofit events is a great way to support the organization and learn more about their work. This could be a charity race, a fundraising dinner, a community cleanup day, or an online webinar.

Join the Board or a Committee: 

If you’re really committed to a nonprofit, consider becoming a board member or joining a committee. This is a significant responsibility, but it’s also a unique opportunity to help guide the organization’s direction and strategy.

Corporate Partnerships: 

If you’re a business owner or hold a significant position in a company, consider forming a partnership with a nonprofit. This could involve financial sponsorship, matched giving programs, offering services, or volunteer partnerships.

Remember that each nonprofit is different, and the best ways to get involved may depend on the specific organization and its current needs. The first step is usually to contact the organization directly and ask how you can best support their mission.


Nonprofits play a crucial role in Arizona, providing assistance to those in need and working toward the betterment of society. These organizations tackle various issues, from homelessness and poverty to education and healthcare. By providing support and resources to vulnerable populations, nonprofits positively impact the lives of countless individuals across the state. 

However, the success of these organizations depends heavily on the support of volunteers and donors. By getting involved with a nonprofit, individuals can make a meaningful difference in their communities and help create a brighter future for Arizona. Whether through volunteering, donating, or spreading awareness, everyone can play a part in supporting these critical organizations.

Spotlight on Local Nonprofits

Learn about the impactful work of Arizona nonprofits at PureAZ. Discover their history, missions, achievements, and insights from leaders and volunteers. Stay up-to-date with nonprofit events and activities in Arizona. Join us in supporting these organizations and their positive community impact.

Discover what’s happening in your community! From upcoming events and fundraisers to volunteer opportunities, PureAZ has all the information you need to get involved. Whether you’re looking to participate in local initiatives or learn more about the issues that matter to you, PureAZ has a range of resources available for further learning. So follow us to stay connected and make a difference in Arizona.

Discover helpful resources for nonprofits, including websites, books, and online courses. If you’re looking to start a nonprofit in Arizona, we’ve got you covered with relevant resources. Also, find answers to common questions on our FAQ page. PureAZ is your go-to destination for all things nonprofit.

FAQs about Nonprofits in Arizona

How do I start a nonprofit in Arizona?

Read more in our guide to starting a nonprofit in Arizona.

Broadly, this involves several steps:

  • Identify your organization’s mission and structure.
  • Assemble a board of directors.
  • File Articles of Incorporation with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
  • Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
  • Develop bylaws and a conflict of interest policy.
  • Apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.
  • Register with the Arizona Department of Revenue.

What is a 501(c)(3)?

A 501(c)(3) is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization recognized by the IRS. This status allows organizations to be free from certain tax burdens, and donations made to these organizations are typically tax-deductible for the donor.

What is tax exemption for a nonprofit?

Tax exemption for a nonprofit means that the organization is exempt from federal income tax on income related to its mission. It may also be exempt from state taxes, depending on Arizona’s tax laws.

How do I volunteer for a nonprofit in Arizona?

To volunteer, start by identifying a nonprofit that aligns with your interests. Contact them directly to inquire about volunteer opportunities, or check their website for information. Many organizations have a volunteer application process and may require background checks, depending on the nature of the work.

How are nonprofits funded?

Nonprofits can be funded in various ways, including donations from individuals, grants from foundations, government funding, and income from fundraising events or the sale of goods and services related to their mission.

Do nonprofits have paid staff?

Yes, many nonprofits have paid staff. While volunteers play a crucial role in many organizations, paid staff often manage and operate the nonprofit, including program delivery, administration, and fundraising activities.

How can I check the legitimacy of a nonprofit?

You can verify a nonprofit’s legitimacy by checking if it’s registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt organization. Also, resources like GuideStar, the Arizona Corporation Commission, or the Better Business Bureau can provide additional information on a nonprofit’s status and operations.

How can I donate to a nonprofit?

You can donate to a nonprofit directly through their website or by sending a check. Some organizations may also have options for planned giving, stocks and securities donations, or in-kind donations.

Are my donations to a nonprofit tax-deductible?

Donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofits are typically tax-deductible. However, you should always check the organization’s tax status and consult with a tax professional to understand how a donation may affect your tax situation.

What is the difference between a nonprofit and a not-for-profit organization?

The terms “nonprofit” and “not-for-profit” are often used interchangeably. Both types of entities do not distribute profits to owners or shareholders. However, “nonprofit” is generally used to refer to an organization that operates for the public benefit, while “not-for-profit” is often used for entities like clubs or associations that serve their members.

Remember, laws and regulations related to nonprofits can be complex and are subject to change. This information is intended as a general guide, and anyone considering starting a nonprofit or getting involved with one should consider seeking advice from a qualified professional.

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