Philanthropy Classification System

About the Draft Review

We’re currently working on a major expansion of our classification system and invite the sector to review and provide feedback on our proposed changes. The deadline for feedback has been extended to June 30, 2014. Access the new draft to review and comment.

About the Philanthropy 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 Classification System 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've outlined how each facet of the Classification System is applied by the Foundation Center to grantmakers, recipient organizations and philanthropic transactions in our data set. Questions can be submitted to one of our staff using the “Ask the Taxonomist” link. 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.

Moved From:
Broader Terms:
Narrower Terms:
Related Terms:
Use For:

Explore the Facets:

  • Subjects Describes WHAT is being supported Example: Elementary education or Clean water supply.
  • Population Groups Describes WHO is being supported. Example: Girls or People with disabilities.
  • Types of Support Describes HOW support is being provided. Example: Capacity Building or Scholarships
  • Organization Type Describes WHAT type of organization is receiving support. Example: Catholic affiliation/auspice
  • 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).

See All Download Options

Ask a Taxonomist

Our taxonomy experts are standing by to help you with your classification questions. Send us an email and one of our taxonomists will get back to you shortly.

Submit a Question

Have a Suggestion?

Think we’re missing something that’s critical to your work?  Let us know!

Send Us Your Suggestion

Map Your Taxonomy

Allows you to submit a copy of your taxonomy to the Foundation Center for us to ‘crosswalk’ (compare to) our Classification System and then share the results with you.

Get Started