Purpose – This paper aims to present findings from a study of non-profit organizations (NPOs), including a model of knowledge needs that can be applied by practitioners and scholars to further develop the NPO sector. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted with NPOs operating in Canada and Australia. An analysis of survey responses identified the different types of knowledge essential for each organization. Respondents identified the importance of three pre-determined themes (quantitative data) related to knowledge needs, as well as a fourth option, which was a free text box (qualitative data). The quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistical analyses and a grounded theory approach, respectively. Findings – Analysis of the quantitative data indicates that NPOs' needs are comparable in both countries. Analysis of qualitative data identified five major categories and multiple sub-categories representing the types of knowledge needs of NPOs. Major categories are knowledge about management and organizational practices, knowledge about resources, community knowledge, sectoral knowledge and situated knowledge. The paper discusses the results using semantic proximity and presents an emergent, evidence-based knowledge management (KM)-NPO model. Originality/value – The findings contribute to the growing body of literature in the KM domain, and in the understudied research domain related to the knowledge needs and experiences of NPOs. NPOs will find the identified categories and sub-categories useful to undertake KM initiatives within their individual organizations. The study is also unique, as it includes data from two countries, Canada and Australia.