The 5 Nonprofit Business Models Revealed

A set of nine seminars based on grounded research (or on-the-ground study over time) of the diverse and distinctive financial dynamics of different types of nonprofits.
· February 26, 2023

A Leader’s Guide to the 5 Core Nonprofit Business Models

Do Nonprofits Have Business Models? Do You Know What They Are?
EXCLUSIVE: A Practice Guide to the Top 5 Nonprofit Business Models

This series of eight 90-minute webinars on the five most common nonprofit business models is a core curriculum of the Nonprofit Financial Commons. It is exclusive to our site and reviews the distinct operational basics related to each business model type.

These include:

  • Capital requirements
  • Transaction models
  • Staffing considerations
  • Common risks and fail points
  • Useful metrics and indicators
  • Fields in which each business model predominates
  • And much more…

This material is drawn from decades of observation of financial patterns among nonprofits and is richly illustrated with case examples. You can start the course at any time and catch up on past sessions by clicking on the classes below and accessing the associated resources.

Why This Financial Series Is So Important to Nonprofit Financial Leaders and Managers

What sets this series apart from other instruction on nonprofit business models is that it centers as the major business driver an organization’s choice of predominant revenue stream. (By the way, even as we use the word “choice,” we acknowledge the fact that revenue streams are often largely determined by field of practice.) More than any other factor, the impact of the predominant revenue type and the operational differences it brings will be felt in areas such as risks, common strengths and challenges, transaction and infrastructure requirements, operational considerations, and more.

The major revenue streams identified for this series are: fees for service/earned income, government funding, institutional/foundation funding, individual giving, and membership. We have also scheduled a lead-in session to explain the business model framework, and we will do a session on hybrids before our final session to wrap the curriculum up. 

Generations of lived experience have gone into this series, though it is fully up to date and fresh in its references and resources. Each webinar has been informed by recent questions from hundreds of participants, which are welcomed before, during, and after each event. Select academic research and practical standards are integrated into each session but, more importantly, we make use of practitioner presentations from financial leaders in the trenches. This financial storytelling has been an extraordinary “chewy center” reflective of NFC’s commitment to cross-learning, and we spend a great deal of time preparing the rest of each webinar as a setting for those examples.

We chose this as a concentration to codify the ways financial patterns play out among different types of nonprofits. This pattern recognition has long been missing in the normative literature and ends up buried amid other types of research and less useful financial advice for nonprofits in general.

Currently Available Online

Classes Coming Online in 2024

  1. Nonprofit Business Model #5: Membership Based
  2. Nonprofit Business Model: Hybrids and Other Mutations
  3. Conclusion: Practitioner Reflections on the NFC Business Model Series
Open Registration

Course Includes

  • 4 Lessons