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.
The following are brief descriptions of the main categories of nonprofit:
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
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Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.
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