Information and Resources for Reporting on Nonprofits

Posted By David Wilhite

April 17, 2017

GuideStar

  • Media contact: Jackie Enterline Fekeci (pronounced “Fa-ketch-ee”), enterline@guidestar.org
  • Website: guidestar.org
  • Database of 2.5 million tax-exempt nonprofits—1.6 million current, remainder defunct or revoked (contact Jackie to access historic information)
  • Nonprofit Profiles—aggregated data from the nonprofits, IRS Forms 990, IRS Business Master File, and other official sources. Contain mission, program, leadership (including compensation), diversity data.
  • Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF received directly from the IRS; go back to mid-1990s
  • Free registration required to view 990s and more than 5 Nonprofit Profiles—register at https://www.guidestar.org/Account/Register
  • View the 3 most recent 990s for any organization with our free search
  • Contact Jackie for access to older 990s
  • Tools to find and interpret nonprofit data (contact Jackie to access)
  • Select and compare nonprofits
  • People search
  • Data sets
  • Experts on nonprofit sector trends, nonprofit transparency, nonprofit executive compensation, giving wisely, 990s, and more. Contact Jackie to set up interviews.

Types of Nonprofit Organizations

  • Around 30 different types: see https://learn.guidestar.org/help/irs-subsection-codes
  • 501(c)(3) public charities—most common. American Red Cross, Feeding America, ASPCA, Audubon Society, Greenpeace Fund, Mayo Clinic, Wounded Warriors, Boys and Girls Clubs, House Rabbit Society, homeless shelters, domestic violence prevention and shelters
  • 501(c)(3) private foundations—Gates Foundation, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, small family foundations
  • 501(c)(4) civic leagues and social welfare organizations—Greenpeace (political, advocacy arm)
  • 501(c)(6) business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards
  • 501(c)(23) veterans organizations—Veterans of Foreign Wars

IRS Forms 990

Disclosure Requirements for Tax-Exempt Organizations

  • Federal regulations require tax-exempt organizations to release the following documents upon request:
  • Application for tax exemption (IRS Form 1023 or 1024)
  • IRS letter of determination (the letter stating the IRS has approved the organization’s application for exemption)
  • Three most recent Forms 990, 990-N, 990-EZ, and 990-T (unrelated business income tax; see https://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Unrelated-Business-Income-Tax). But not 990-N, because it’s filed electronically and there’s no paper copy to release

Note: It is appropriate for a nonprofit to direct someone requesting these documents to GuideStar or a similar site. Some organizations have uploaded their applications for exemption and letters of determination to their respective Nonprofit Profiles

Note: Individual states may have additional disclosure requirements. See http://www.nasconet.org/resources/ for contact information for state charity offices.

  • Documents federal regulations do not require tax-exempt organizations to release
  • Annual reports
  • Audited financial statements
  • Donor information—it’s illegal for the IRS to release donor information reported by most exempt organizations on the 990 (on Schedule B). A nonprofit may release this information, but most redact anything that will identify the donor.
  • Donor information is public information for 501(c)(3) public charities and section 527 political organizaitons
  • Time frame in which a tax-exempt organization must comply with disclosure requests
  • In-person request (at the appropriate office during regular business hours): immediately. Note: immediately means the organization must let someone view the document(s) on the premises; it doesn’t necessarily mean the organization must copy it(them) right away
  • Written requests (letter, fax, or email): within 30 days
  • See https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/public-disclosure-and-availability-of-exempt-organizations-returns-and-applications-disclosures-required

Note: A nonprofit my charge reasonable fees for copying these documents. The fee is currently $0.20 per page. See https://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Public-Disclosure-and-Availability-of-Exempt-Organizations-Returns-and-Applications:-Costs-for-Providing-Copies-of-Documents

News University Self-Directed Course on Reporting on Nonprofits

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