Skip to content

Call us at 855-704-0315 or

Apply Now

Online Degree Programs

What Are the Different Types of Nonprofits?

Many people are aware of the causes that well-known nonprofits support. Large organizations like Susan G. Komen, the United Way and Greenpeace are finding ways to improve aspects of society, medicine, and the environment. However, not everyone is aware of all of the common types of nonprofit organizations, which include public charities, professional and trade organizations, foundations and social advocacy organizations.

Nonprofit Categories

The following are brief descriptions of the main categories of nonprofit:

Public charities

Many charitable organizations in the US are classified as public charities. These nonprofits receive funding from the general public, government agencies, corporations, private foundations or other public charities. They also typically host fundraisers to support their efforts.


According to the IRS, a foundation usually has a single source of funding, such as gifts from a family, a community group or a corporation. The primary purpose of a foundation is to fund individuals and other public charities with grants. The top 100 US foundations include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Professional and Trade Organizations

These types of nonprofits serve people in the same profession. Members generally pay dues to join these charitable organizations. The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Social Workers are examples of a professional or trade organization. Unions and chambers of commerce are included as well.

Social Advocacy Organizations

These nonprofits promote specific beliefs, advocate social change or influence public policy. They may solicit contributions or sell memberships to support their efforts. The Children’s Defense Fund and the American Association of People With Disabilities are examples of social advocacy nonprofits.

Types of Charities

Most charities fall into one of the following areas of focus:

  • Animal charity — Includes zoos and aquariums, wildlife conservation organizations, pet and animal welfare associations, and hunting and fishing conservation groups.
  • Environmental charity — Includes parks and nature centers and environmental conservation and protection agencies.
  • International non-governmental organization — Includes charities that focus on disaster relief and humanitarian aid; peace and human rights; and child sponsorship, among others.
  • Health charity — Includes nonprofits that treat the sick and disabled; also develops cures for diseases and promotes public awareness of specific health risks.
  • Education charity — Includes colleges and universities, scholarship and financial aid agencies, as well as private K-12 schools.
  • Arts & Culture charity — Includes museums and art galleries, performing arts organizations, libraries and historical societies, and public broadcasting and media organizations.

An Online MS in Nonprofit Administration

You can earn an MS in Nonprofit Administration in as little as a year at LSUS. The LSUS online degree program includes core courses in nonprofit development and management, research methods, nonprofit governance, financial management and human resource management. Classes are 100 percent online and you can study and complete coursework at your own pace.

Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.


Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.

Request Information

*All fields required.
Or call us toll free at: 855-704-0315
By submitting this form, I am providing my digital signature agreeing that Louisiana State University Shreveport (LSUS) may email me or contact me regarding educational services by telephone and/or text message utilizing automated technology at the telephone number(s) provided above. I understand this consent is not a condition to attend LSUS or to purchase any other goods or services.