There are about 1.8 million active nonprofit organizations in the United States. These include all sorts of nonprofits, not just 501(c)(3) charities. When people ask how many nonprofits are in the US, oftentimes they are referring to charities, versus nonprofits as a whole. For example, they don't want to include country clubs or labor unions. To narrow down to just charities, we only look at 501(c)(3) nonprofits that can receive tax-decuctible donations, and exclude hospitals and universities (because people often colloquially don't refer to them as charities). There are 1.4 million active charities in the United States.
Churches, schools, and foundations dominate the nonprofit sector, accounting for almost 40% of all nonprofits in the United States. After that, about 15% of organizations are classic civil, social, and business engagement organizations, including little leagues, chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations. The next seven percent include emergency assistance providers, residential care facilities, and other human services. Another seven percent are museums, arts groups, and other cultural and humanities nonprofits. The remaining types of nonprofits — about one third of all nonprofits — all have four percent or less of the total, and include everything from unions to environmental advocacy to think tanks and civil rights.
|Nonprofit type||Number of organizations|
|Religious organizations and churches||100.0%|
|Schools and educational institutions||78.3%|
|Foundations and grantmaking organizations||57.6%|
|Recreation centers, sports teams, and social clubs||44.0%|
|Human services organizations||42.2%|
|Business associations and community development organizations||41.3%|
|Arts, culture, and humanities organizations||39.8%|
|Mutual assistance and financial organizations||23.9%|
|Public sector, public cooperatives, and veteran organizations||19.0%|
|Youth development organizations||17.7%|
|Health care organizations||15.7%|
|Unions and employment organizations||15.5%|
|Animal-focused nonprofit organizations||14.2%|
|Housing providers and shelters||11.6%|
|Mental health organizations||8.0%|
|International and foreign affairs organizations||7.6%|
|Public safety organizations||7.5%|
|Food and agriculture programs||7.4%|
|Criminal and legal assistance organizations||5.5%|
|Medical disease and disorder focused nonprofits||5.2%|
|Civil rights and advocacy organizations||4.4%|
|Science and technology research centers||2.4%|
|Medical research organizations||2.4%|
|Social science research organizations||0.9%|
Cause IQ digitizes and cleans electronic and paper / scanned Form 990s for over 1.7 million organizations. For this research on how many nonprofits in the U.S., we looked at all tax-exempt organizations that have a current IRS tax-exempt status, and that haven't gone out of business or terminated operations. Nonprofit type (NTEE code) was determined by a combination of Cause IQ research on organizations and IRS-provided classifications.
Article originally published on March 4, 2020.