The Art and Science of Classifying Organizations with the NTEE (Technical Note)

The NTEE-CC classification system divides the universe of nonprofit organizations into 26 major groups under 10 broad categories as follows:

I. Arts, Culture, and Humanities Major Group A

II. Education Major Group B

III. Environment and Animals Major Groups C & D

IV. Health Major Groups E, F, G, H

V. Human Services Major Groups I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P

VI. International, Foreign Affairs Major Group Q

VII. Public, Societal Benefit Major Groups R, S, T, U, V, W

VIII. Religion Related Major Group X

IX. Mutual/Membership Benefit Major Group Y

X. Unknown, Unclassified Major Group Z

Within the major groups, organizations are broken down according to logical divisions (decile level codes) and subdivisions (centile level codes). Organizations that exist across all or most of the 26 major groups are treated separately and are given what is known as "common codes".

General descriptions of the 26 major group areas as well as definitions for each of the 400+ codes are available on our website at Throughout the lists of codes and terms, suggestions concerning their use are noted. But still, many find the process to be more than just a bit daunting. Organization classification has been called “an art, not a science”, and yet, consistency in the use of the codes is the key to their usefulness.

The key to coding using the NTEE is understanding what an organization is. The NTEE, afterall, is an organizational classification system. It is not intended to be used to capture the activities of nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, where the art comes in and the science goes out is that sometimes, what an organization is also reflects what it does. And other times, the connection is not as direct.

A hospital provides health care. An elementary school provides education. They should be coded accoridngly. A YMCA, however, should be coded as a P27, even though it often provides recreation (Major Group N); can provide adult education (Major Group B); and can even provide HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs (Major Group G). A homeless shelter (L41) provides a temporary place to stay for people who have no permanent housing, and should not be confused with a soup kitchen, even if it offers a food program, or a counseling center, even if it offers counseling to its clients.

Attached are documents useful for understanding the "art and science" of classification. Also, see "How accurate are NTEE codes?" under the subcategory "Data Quality and Reliability."



Added 07/11/2002 by tpollak, Modified 06/05/2006 by jauer


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