In addition to our Nonprofit Explorer interactive database, here are some resources for researching charities and other tax-exempt organizations.
- The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism has an “Investigating Nonprofits Tipsheet” as well as self-guided training on investigating nonprofits (as well as other private companies)
- The Foundation Center’s 990 Finder has information on U.S. charitable foundations, including financial reports.
- Guidestar Premium has sophisticated tools that let you compare nonprofits by financial health, number of full-time employees, board chairs, etc.
- The National Association of State Charity Officials links to state offices that regulate charitable organizations and charitable solicitations.
- You can request 990s or applications for exemptions directly from the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS website also allows for searching of political organization disclosures and has 990-n postcard searching.
- Some states, such as North Carolina require nonprofits to file their annual audits online.
- The Center for Investigative Reporting published a piece on how to dig deeper into a nonprofit's finances.
- The Indiana University archives retain some historical non-profit filings, and you can submit search requests.
- NCC of New York and Ford Foundation have a very in-depth guide on how to read a 990 to analyze their net assets, look for self-dealing, find out if any officers have left, etc.
- The law that covers tax-exempt organizations is 26 USC § 501 Exemption From Tax on Corporations, Certain Trusts, etc.
- The IRS publishes many useful guides for tax-exempt filers, which are helpful for those trying to understand how nonprofits work, including: Instructions for Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax and Publication 557: Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy publishes two particularly useful resources: How America Gives, a database that looks at giving patterns in every city, state and neighborhood in the U.S., and America's Top Donors, a database of gifts of $1 million or more to charities since 2003.