White Paper #1

> The Four Types of Nonprofits: A New System to Better Understand Best Management and Governance Practices

Nonprofits are often viewed as a unified whole by researchers, funders and consultants seeking to identify best organizational practices. Alternately, many nonprofits are categorized into self-defined micro-sectors, with supposed unique attributes. The generalist approach ignores basic functional differences among nonprofits, while the specialist view can create arbitrary distinctions. Both perspectives have inherent drawbacks, and may create obstacles to understanding the sources of organizational success (and failure). To clarify focus in the assessment of management and governance practices, we offer a new classification system based on the functional roles nonprofits play in pursuing their social missions. We define four types of organizations: community-based (C-orgs); service delivery (D-orgs); system impact (I-orgs); and network management (N-orgs). Each type has distinct structural characteristics and capacity needs.

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