Debunked: What do the NFL, the New York Stock Exchange, Mayo Clinic, Greenpeace, and the American Red Cross all have in common? They’re all nonprofits.

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From structure, to fundraising model, to mission, to people served, nonprofits are widely diverse. So varied are nonprofit organizations from one another that the IRS devised over 25 classifications for nonprofits that are tax-exempt and fall into subcategories like public charities, foundations, social welfare organizations, and professional and trade associations (

Nonprofits and the work they do are even classified more specifically to capture the wide variety of efforts they undertake. For example, the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) system is used by the IRS to classify nonprofit organizations. Under the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities, nonprofits are divided into 26 groups in 10 major categories based on the main focal issues the organizations cover. Thus, nonprofits cover a wide range of issues, including issues within these areas:

  1. Arts, Culture, and Humanities
  2. Education
  3. Environment and Animals
  4. Health
  5. Human Services
  6. International and Foreign Affairs
  7. Public and Societal Benefit
  8. Religion Related
  9. Mutually beneficial/membership benefit
  10. Unknown or unclassified organizations



Think you can you identify a nonprofit from a non-nonprofit? Take Dr. Clerkin’s “Nonprofit: Yes or No?” ‘quiz’ to test your skills: