5 Difference Between Charity and Non Profit

Nov 20, 2023
Why is Difference Between Charity and Non Profit

Charity and Non Profit: Have you encountered organizations asking for donations for worthy causes such as natural or man-made disasters or fighting diseases like cancer and AIDS? These organizations, also known as non-profit organizations or charities, may request that their supporters give something in return. These terms may seem synonymous, however, this article will attempt to dissect what distinguishes between one type and the other in terms of features and functioning.

What is Non-Profit?

Figure-no-01: Non-Profit

Be wary of organizations with non-profit labels; don’t be misled by their name alone. Non-profit companies may or may not qualify as charities, while many non-profit companies simply operate like businesses without making profits but setting aside any surplus money for salaries or charity purposes instead. A true non-profit company won’t disclose its profits.

What is Charity?

FIgure-no-02: Charity

A charity is an organization engaged in social causes such as combatting illiteracy or other ailments, or aiding relief operations. The money provided by donors may only be used for these social initiatives; employees do not receive salaries but instead volunteer their services voluntarily – hence making charitable organizations similar to non-profits as they both do not make a profit.

Difference Between Charity and Non-Profit

  • Charity and nonprofit organizations have an obligation to safeguard their resources and assets. You should secure them with appropriate insurance to safeguard assets, possessions, and money that belong to them.
  • Public liability insurance is essential for charities and non-profit organizations. If your charity interacts with the public at fundraising events, such as at fundraisers, this type of policy provides legal fees incurred defending against liability claims that could arise without coverage by this type of liability insurance if any attendee at a fundraising event files a complaint about it.
  • Organizers that did not give enough thought or time to drying of the floor could have experienced serious injury if it had remained wet for an extended period. Even if the damage could have been anticipated, they may still have suffered physical harm as a result of neglectful actions by others. For more information about public liability insurance coverage click here.
  • Employers’ liability coverage of at least PS5,000,000 is required, in addition to public charity liability coverage. Learn what this entails as well as what employers’ liability means.
  • Your charity should prominently display its insurance certificate.


Aspect Charity Non-profit Organization
Focus and Purpose Immediate aid and assistance Advancing a cause or mission
Timeframe of Activities Often short-term Can have both short-term and long-term goals
Funding Sources Relies heavily on public donations and fundraising Relies on donations but may have additional sources of funding
Organizational Structure Can have a simpler hierarchy Has a more complex governance and management structure

Funding Sources

  • Donations made by individuals to support a charity’s cause or mission are known as individual giving.
  • Contributions by corporations and businesses through social initiatives, partnerships, and/or corporate social responsibility programs.
  • Both private and public foundations offer financial assistance to charitable organizations.
  • Income generated by fundraising events like charity galas, runs and auctions can generate substantial profits for charities.
  • Crowdfunding refers to using online platforms to collect funds from multiple individuals for a project or campaign.

Diversification of funding streams for nonprofit organizations

  • Grants: Gaining grants from funding agencies like foundations or government bodies is an excellent way to support projects or programs.
  • Program Revenue: An organization generates program revenue through charges or fees for events, services or programs they host or promote.
  • Membership Fees: Membership fees refer to fees collected from individuals and organizations who join as members.
  • Corporate Sponsorship: Establishing partnerships or alliances with businesses that provide financial support in exchange for recognition, benefits or other rewards.
  • Donations-in-Kind (DIKs): non-monetary contributions such as goods, volunteer services or support that don’t fall into the traditional financial category.

Note: It is important to keep in mind that these funding sources may overlap, and charities and nonprofit organizations can explore multiple avenues in order to fulfill their missions and sustain operations. Depending on an organization’s focus, size, and location the exact mix may differ significantly.

Governance and Organizational Structure

A. Charities tend to have simpler organizational structures than most businesses do.

  • Board of Directors: Charities typically appoint a board to oversee strategic direction, operations oversight, and compliance with regulations.
  • Executive Director/CEO: Charities may appoint an executive director who oversees the day-to-day operations of their charity while working closely with its board of trustees.
  • Staff: Charities typically employ both employees and volunteers who directly provide services or programs for beneficiaries.

B. Non-profit organizations typically feature more complex governance structures.

  • Board of Directors: Nonprofit organizations usually feature their own board of directors. These boards may consist of multiple people with diverse backgrounds who support the mission of the organization.
  • Executive Leadership Team: Non-profit organizations often enlist an executive director or chief operating officer as well as program directors, finance directors, and other key positions within their leadership structure to provide essential direction.
  • Staff: Nonprofit organizations may employ a large staff with experts in fundraising, marketing, and program administration.

C. Board of Director’s Roles and Responsibilities Can Vary Based on Category

  • Charities: When managing charities, their boards of directors are charged with making strategic decisions and overseeing financial affairs as well as fund-raising efforts and upholding the mission.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: Board members in non-profits typically possess similar responsibilities as those for for-profit companies, with additional duties including policy development, advocacy efforts, partnership-building activities, program evaluation, and development activities being added into the mix.
  • Note: It is essential to keep in mind that the organizational and governance structures of non-profit and charity organizations can vary depending on factors like their size, mission, and legal requirements. Some adopt hybrid models which combine elements from both non-profit and charity structures.

Public Perception and Branding

Public Perception, Branding, and Imagery

  • Emotional Appeal: Charities use personal stories and images to build rapport with donors, instill empathy, and make emotional appeals to donors.
  • Individual Focus: They may emphasize the direct assistance they offer to individuals or communities.
  • Humanitarian Mission: Charities often focus on meeting immediate needs and relieving suffering, as well as making a difference in people’s lives who may otherwise go without.
  • Trust and Transparency: Trust is key in charity. Charities strive to be as transparent as possible with regard to their finances, operations, and impact.

B. Nonprofit Organizations

  • Systemic Changes: Non-profit organizations may focus on systemic issues and advocate for long-term cultural, social or environmental modifications.
  • Mission-Driven: They strive to have an impactful presence and foster social transformation.
  • Research and Education: Nonprofit organizations may conduct research and education activities to inform policymakers and other key stakeholders of their cause.

C. Trust and Reputation Considerations both

  • Impact Measurement: Both types of organizations need to demonstrate tangible outcomes and impacts in order to win public support and donor assistance.
  • Expectations of Donors: Both charities and non-profits are expected to adhere to transparent, accountable practices with regard to fundraising.
  • Reputation management: Both types of organizations must take great care to foster positive associations in the eyes of their target audiences since negative publicity can damage public support in significant ways.

Public perception and branding of charities and non-profits can vary significantly, depending on various factors including track record, communication strategy, public awareness campaigns, and media coverage.

Examples of Charities and Non-Profit Organizations

Nonprofit Organization Examples outline various charitable and non-profit organizations.

  • Red Cross: Red Cross is an international humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance and disaster response.
  • World Vision: World Vision is an international charity focused on child sponsorship and community development. They respond quickly to disasters while working to combat poverty.

B. Examples of Nonprofit Organizations

  • As a non-profit organization, the American Cancer Society’s aim is to end cancer through research, patient support services, education and advocacy efforts.
  • Greenpeace, an international environmental nonprofit organization, is widely known for its activism, campaigns, and commitment to biodiversity and environmental preservation.

These organizations may be well-known, but there are numerous non-profit and charitable organizations active worldwide that address issues like education, healthcare, animal welfare, justice for all, and social justice. Please keep in mind that these examples only represent some aspects of charitable or non-profit work.

Collaboration and Overlap

Charity and non-profit organizations working collaboratively

  • Partnerships: Nonprofit and charitable organizations may form alliances in order to pool their resources, expertise, and networks in order to address social or environmental challenges together.
  • Service Provision: Charities, non-profits, and other organizations collaborate in providing services and programs for those in need in both individuals and communities by pooling their strengths and capabilities.
  • Advocacy Efforts: Charities and nonprofit organizations can collaborate on advocacy efforts that work toward policy changes, raise public awareness, or amplify collective voices to bring about social or environmental transformation.

B. How Goals and Activities Align

  • Similar Causes: Charities and nonprofit organizations may share similar goals, so working together towards common causes such as poverty reduction, environmental protection or education could be mutually beneficial.
  • Geographic Focus: Nonprofits and charities operating within a particular community or region may share common goals and work cooperatively to maximize their impact.
  • Fundraising and Donor Base: Individuals and businesses alike can contribute their resources and support organizations that align with their values.

Though charities and nonprofit organizations may share similar goals and activities, each is subject to its own legal and organizational frameworks. Non-profits may focus more heavily on activities outside direct aid while charities focus more on direct services. Collaboration among them can be mutually beneficial if the roles, responsibilities, and legal requirements of each are respected.


Non-profit and charitable organizations are distinct entities but both are committed to serving people’s needs. The majority of charities focus on providing the direct assistance and support of people or communities that are in need, and rely heavily on fundraising and donations. Non-profits, though being inclusive of charities, cover an array of other organisations that are working towards various social and educational objectives. Non-profits are often involved in advocacy, research and capacity-building projects, using different funding sources to achieve lasting and sustainable change. Both are essential to making a more equitable and compassionate society each with its own strategy and effect.