||The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established in 1987 to provide for the protection of nationally significant estuaries. Since the program's inception, 21 estuaries have been added to the NEP. Each estuary's management conference, consisting of representatives from federal, state and local agencies, businesses, citizen groups, and universities, is responsible for the development of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) that outlines a strategy for conserving and managing the estuary's resources. The paper examines how well nonprofit (NPO) organizations can fulfill this role. It first discusses the ability of NPOs, in general, to attract and disburse funds and describes the direct and indirect implementation activities they can undertake. The paper then examines specific types of NPOs and reviews the case for using a public charity structure, the most commonly used type of NPO to date.