What is a nonprofit organization?

Nonprofit organizations are cause or mission-based organizations that seek to make a meaningful impact on their local, national, or international community.  Most of the nonprofit organizations that we are familiar with are considered “public charities” by the Internal Revenue Code.  Nonprofit organizations can be further classified into the following categories:

  • Arts, culture, and humanities
  • Education
  • Environment and Animals
  • Health
  • Human services
  • International and foreign affairs
  • Public and societal benefit
  • Religion-related

In addition to public charities, other organizations (e.g., chambers of commerce) are also considered nonprofits.

Complete list of types of nonprofit organizations

According to a recent article in Fast Company:

The nonprofit sector alone is now the third-largest segment of the U.S. workforce, following retail and manufacturing. Around 1.8 million nonprofit agencies are located in the United States, employing 13.7 million people and accounting for nearly 10% of the nation’s workforce. These jobs pay $322 billion in wages. The combined assets of U.S. nonprofits are nearly $3 trillion, making the sector the seventh-largest economy in the world–larger than the economies of Brazil, Russia, and Canada.


The following websites may be helpful to you as you explore information about careers in nonprofit organizations:

Print Resources

  • “Compassionate Careers:  Making a Living by Making a Difference”
    by Jeffrey W. Pryor & Alexandra Mitchell
  • “The Nonprofit Career Guide:  How to Land a Job that Makes a Difference”
    by Shelly Cryer