Research Outline

Typical Nonprofit Structure


Provide an overview of the typical organizational structure of non-profit organizations, including those that operate nationall and those that operate locally.

Early Findings

  • A typical non-profit structure includes a Board of Directors along with executive staff, managerial employees and administrative positions.
  • The members of the Board of Directors are typically not paid staff and serve on a voluntary basis. They are responsible for setting policies and rules, overseeing the financials of the nonprofit and hiring executive staff.
  • The number of board positions can impacted by where the non-profit is located as different states have different rules about the required number of board members or other aspects of the structure. For example, if the nonprofit is located in Texas, a minimum of three directors, a president and a secretary are required.
  • Executive staff includes positions such as the CEO and Vice President along with other high level positions based on the size of the nonprofit. The executives are responsible for managing day to day operations and hiring staff. They also represent the organization at events and outside functions.
  • Managerial staff oversee specific departments or functions and often interface with customers and clients.
  • Administrative staff perform office-based tasks such as scheduling, answering phones, etc. and are typically entry-level jobs within a nonprofit organization.
  • Staff within a nonprofit may be W-2 employed staff, contractors or volunteers.
  • The type of staff that are included in a nonprofit's structure are dependent on the type of work the nonprofit performs. For example, a membership-based nonprofit might need a membership manager while a nonprofit that does a lot of fundraising would need a fundraising manager.
  • Smaller non-profits may not have all the above outlined levels and could have as few as one part-time staff.
  • There are 1.57 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. employing 11.4 million people. Therefore, the typical nonprofit organization employs about 7 people (11.4 million/1.57 million, rounded to the nearest whole number).
  • Examples of typical organizational charts for a non-profit organizations can be found here and here.