Philanthropy Classification System

About the Philanthropy Classification System

In 2012, in order to better meet the needs of the philanthropic sector, the Foundation Center began an extensive revision of our Philanthropy Classification System (PCS), reexamining both the terms included in the taxonomy and the overall structure. The goal was not to create yet another standard, but to work towards creating a more broadly adopted standard that more accurately reflects the work of the field and can serve as a more relevant tool for a 21st Century global philanthropy community. 

The Center consulted partner organizations, received feedback from the sector to complete the final revisions, and released the first version of the PCS in December 2014. The Center will be recoding our entire database over the next 4 months and the PCS will be reflected in our online products during the second quarter of 2015. Until that time we will continue to publish data using our prior Grants Classification System

The Philanthropy Classification System (PCS) describes the work of grantmakers, recipient organizations and the philanthropic transactions between those entities. The Center’s Classification System in based on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) and has been expanded over the last three decades to include the emerging work we have evidenced while capturing and indexing the work of the sector on a global scale.

The facets of the PCS illuminate the work and answer the following questions about philanthropy:

Our newly designed site lets you explore each facet of the taxonomy through the Visual Navigation tool, Quick Search, A-Z search or a hierarchy view.

We will continue to update the site as we complete our recoding efforts and begin to publish data in our resources using the new PCS model. You can also learn more about related resources and other new features available in the Tools and Resources section of the site.

Quick Search

Search across all the facets.

Suggestions will appear as you type, select a suggestion to view the full record.


New to the PCCS? 

GCS Visual Navigator

You can use our new Visual Navigator to explore and discover the terms used in each facet and the relationships between them!


Term Information

Select a term on the left to see details.

Current Code:
Old Code:

Explore the Facets:

  • Subjects Describes WHAT is being supported Example: Elementary education or Clean water supply.
  • Populations Describes WHO is being supported. Example: Girls or People with disabilities.
  • Organization Type Describes WHAT type of organization is providing or receiving support
  • Transaction Type Describes HOW support is being provided
  • Support Strategies Describes HOW activities are being implemented
  • Geographic Area Served ( Details WHERE the impact of funding is taking place. Example: a recipient is located in Washington, DC but provides rural programs in Kenya.

The classification system can be downloaded in Excel, PDF, or plain text (CSV).

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Ask a Taxonomist

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The PCS is available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.