Can a for-profit business owner start a nonprofit public charity?
Yes. Although the IRS will probably scrutinize the relationship between the new nonprofit organization and its for-profit founder for possible private benefit or private inurement (See Ready Reference Page: “Charities May Not Confer Private Benefits.”), the nature of the founding or controlling person does not determine the status of the new organization. It can qualify as a charity if it is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes, does not provide private benefit or private inurement, does not spend more than an insubstantial portion of its time and money on lobbying, and does not intervene in an election campaign. It can qualify as a public charity (as opposed to a private foundation) if it is a church, hospital, or school or otherwise meets the public support requirements, or qualifies as supporting organization. (See Ready Reference Pages: “Calculating Public Support.")