Cornell University

In This Section:

Nonprofit and Government Facts


  • Nonprofits are organizations whose income is not used for the benefit or gain of stockholders, owners, or any other people with an interest in the organization.
  • The nonprofit sector is also referred to as the independent, third, or voluntary sector.
  • In 2012, there were 1.6 million tax-exempt organizations in America, of which 1.1 million were public charities, private foundations, and religious organizations, according to Vault.
  • Nonprofit employers range in size from tiny soup kitchens to our largest universities and museums.
  • While nonprofits are very diverse, most fall into one of twelve categories of organizations:
    • private educational;
    • health;
    • arts, historical, and cultural;
    • labor;
    • direct social service;
    • advocacy and political groups;
    • professional, associations;
    • lobbying;
    • think tanks & research centers;
    • foundations;
    • environmental;
    • religious.


  • The government sector consists of federal, state, and local employers.
  • The U.S. Department of Defense is the world's largest employer, according to Niall McCarthy's Forbes article "The World's Biggest Employers."
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data set, an annual average of 2,729,632 people worked for the federal government in 2014.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic’s QCEW data set, an annual average of 18,315,896 people worked for state and local government in 2014.
  • According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistic’s QCEW data set, an annual average of 3,934,291 worked for city governments in 2014.
  • Like the nonprofit sector, government offers many diverse career options including jobs in areas such as law enforcement, health, education, natural resources, and much more.
  • You can locate government websites by using the 103 Barnes Hall Career Library. Search the database by using "government websites" in the key word box or narrow your search by specifying the type of government you want to explore, e.g., "city government".