Definition of small, medium or large nonprofit is …

in Marketing for Nonprofits,News

UPDATE (9-15-11): Voting closed. Classifications established. I recommend you first read this post for the background. You’ll find the results of the poll in my September 15, 2011 post, “Votes Tallied. Classifications of Small Medium & Large Nonprofits Set.” Thanks again to all who participated!  [End of update.]

The definition of a small nonprofit … a medium nonprofit … or a large nonprofit organization is a MYSTERY.  It’s UNKNOWN. 

Apparently there are no industry standards or guidelines so nonprofit organizations can easily be grouped by their size.  We refer to nonprofits this way a lot but base the terminology on nothing “official.”

Let’s set the industry standards – please VOTE

Since nothing could be found … Let’s set the industry standards together.

Why bother?  Well, for one thing it will add more consistency to all the research projects that occur within the nonprofit sector ― there’ll be no doubt what is meant by small, medium or large nonprofit.  And when we attend conferences we’ll all have the same understanding when nonprofits are grouped by size during presentations or for any other reason.  Polls, surveys, contests, blog posts, etc. … we’ll all be on the same sheet of music.

I’m establishing five (5) classifications because nonprofit gross receipts range from well under $1-million per year to over $60-billion (according to NCCS).  Three classifications (i.e., small, medium & large), don’t allow for enough distinction based on gross receipts; and lump too many nonprofits together that really don’t belong in the same category in my opinion.

On the other hand we don’t want to get carried away and slice it too fine. 

Please use the poll box below to vote on the following classifications (IF you “disagree,” please use the OTHER box to fill in your recommendations.  Or IF you “click disagree” you can either add your recommendations in the POLL comment section or here in the comments for the Zapp Nonprofit Blog):

Micro … annual gross receipts less than $1-Million

Small … annual gross receipts greater than $1-Million and less than $10-Million (Range $1 – $10 million/year)

Medium … annual gross receipts greater than $10-Million and less than $30-Million (Range $10 – $30 million/year)

Large … annual gross receipts greater than $30-Million and less than $100-Million (Range $30 – $100 million/year)

Mega … annual gross receipts greater than $100-Million

[polldaddy poll=5374932]

Thanks for voting!  And IF by chance you disagree with my classifications, please use the comment box for this blog to make your suggestions (unless you already wrote them in the “Other” box when voting).

The results will be published here in my blog after the voting is closed on September 10, 2011.

I have a favor to ask:  I’d appreciate it if you would help spread the word throughout your own networks such as your co-workers, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email contacts.

My goal is to get as many votes as possible within the next few weeks and I need your help to accomplish that. 

Oh, and if you know of some “official” definitions that I couldn’t find … please, please, please share them by adding a comment to this post (see below).

My research efforts

And just in case you’re interested in how I determined that there is no industry standard . . . my research began with several hours of online digging.  I didn’t find anything that defined nonprofits by size in any way.

So I asked a number of folks who work at agencies, several of my peers (veteran freelance consultants with over 100 years of combined experience), and I raised the question in four different groups on LinkedIn for nonprofit professionals. Finally I also asked numerous vendors with years of nonprofit experience at the recent 2011 Bridge Conference.

Everywhere the answer came up as … “Gee, I don’t think I’ve seen anything but if you find it I’d love to know what it is.”

That’s how I came to the conclusion that there’s no definition – most likely based on annual gross receipts – to define nonprofits.  In other words, there are no official industry standards or guidelines to determine which organizations could be classified as small, medium, or large nonprofits.

Don’t forget to vote using the poll box above!  And please spread the word to get more nonprofit employees and consultants to vote so we can set some guidelines.  It will help future research efforts, presentations at conferences, and so much more!