Club Governance

Why is governance part of the Compliance Initiative?

An organization’s articles of incorporation legally creates the club and is the essential document to have on record for its existence.  An organization’s bylaws set up the guidelines for the club to follow when it comes to its structure and its officers.  Many times, when clubs have issues, they call Civitan International headquarters to help navigate the next steps.  Because these documents can change, international HQ needs the current ones on file for each club.  An extra benefit will be that these important documents will be stored at international HQ for reference for your future club members and leadership. We’ve had a few clubs lose these over the years, and essentially, we will become a library for our clubs with these on record.  For those clubs that don’t have these documents, it alerts members and International about the issue so it can be solved and new documents in this manner can be put in place.

Civitan International continues its governance and compliance initiative for our United States clubs. Below are some resources to assist in accomplishing this endeavor: 

Club Compliance

Civitan clubs do so many good things for their communities through service, knowledge and fellowship. Our united purpose is to make a difference, and sometimes we lose sight of the special obligations placed upon us because we are who we are – entities that are not for profit. Civitan International feels very strongly about our responsibility to protect and secure the clubs and volunteers who make up this wonderful organization.

As the parent organization, Civitan International wants to ensure all clubs are successful by ensuring strong processes are in place. A compliance initiative began several years ago to assist in this process and help strengthen the organization of the club. Our compliance program will occur annually going forward. This effort will assist in ensuring your club continues its outstanding efforts to serve your community. In addition, this initiative will allow us to confirm Civitan International’s compliance to the rules we have to follow to protect the organization’s tax-exempt status.

IRS 990 Filing for U.S. Clubs

In the United States, Civitan clubs, as tax-exempt organizations, must annually file with a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service.


  • Club’s with gross receipts between $50,000 and $200,000 are required to file Form 990-EZ.
  • Those with gross receipts greater than $200,000 must file a Form 990.

For important filing information, including guidance on which form to file or what to do if you cannot find your EIN number, please see the IRS Charities and Non-Profits website. This link will include information related to: 1) how to verify your club’s EIN , (if you do not know your club’s EIN, email 2) filing requirements, 3) how to be reinstated if your club loses tax-exempt status, and 4) other resources for tax-exempt organizations.

Helpful Hints:

  • Everyone filing a 990 will need to create a new user account the first time they file.
  • The tax return year for your filing should coincide with the beginning of your tax year. So, for example, if your fiscal year is 10-1-22 to 9-30-23 (like most clubs), the tax return you will file for that year is the 2022 return.
  • Most clubs are listed as Civitan International with the IRS. When you enter your EIN, do not try to change the name to your club’s name.
  • Form 990, 990-EZ and 990-N are due to the IRS within 5 (four and one half) months of the club’s year end. For a September 30 year end, that deadline would be February 15th.

Civitan clubs in the United States are classified as 501(c)(4) civic league / social welfare organizations with the Internal Revenue Service. Failure to file an annual return for three (3) consecutive years can result in a revocation of your tax-exempt status. Reinstatement of your tax-exempt status is possible if proper procedures are followed.

Civitan International does not currently maintain records of your club’s IRS history, but you may contact Civitan International for more information.  If you are notified by the IRS your club has lost its tax-exempt status for failure to file a return, or if you receive any other correspondence for the IRS regarding your club’s past returns or its exempt status, please contact Mary M. Luck, Director of Compliance, as soon as possible.


With any questions or for more information related to club governance, compliance or IRS filings, please contact: 
Mary M. Luck, Director of Club Support & Compliance, 1-800-CIVITAN, ext. 121,