Press "Enter" to skip to content

Guide to Researching Non Profit Organizations

Researching non-profits, including looking up their IRS tax returns, can provide valuable information for anyone interested in understanding their operations, finances, and impact. Here are some steps you can take to conduct such research:

Identify the non-profit organization you want to research. You can search for non-profits using online the free IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search (TEOS). (There are also private directories such as Guidestar and ProPublica.)

Locate the non-profit’s IRS Form 990 tax return. Non-profits are required to file Form 990 with the IRS each year, and these forms provide detailed information on the organization’s finances, activities, and governance. You can find Form 990 on the non-profit’s website or through the Guidestar or TEOS directories.

Review the Form 990. The Form 990 is a comprehensive document that includes information on the non-profit’s income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, as well as details on its programs, activities, and governance. You can use this information to gain a better understanding of the non-profit’s financial health and impact.

Look for other sources of information. In addition to the Form 990, you may be able to find additional information on the non-profit’s website, through news articles or other media coverage, or by talking to people who have interacted with the organization.

Analyze the information you’ve gathered. Once you have gathered all the relevant information, take some time to analyze it and draw conclusions about the non-profit’s operations, finances, and impact. You may want to compare the non-profit’s financial data to that of other organizations in its field, or to look for trends over time.

If your starting point is a person and you want to find out if this person is an officer or director of a non profit, often the best way to do this is to do a (person’s) name search on a State’s corporate records website. If the person is an officer or director, their name will be affiliated with the non profit corporation. Then once you have the name of the non profit, do the IRS search explained above.

Overall, researching non-profits can be a complex process, but it can also be very rewarding in terms of the insights you can gain into these important organizations. By following these steps and taking the time to analyze the information you’ve gathered, you can develop a deeper understanding of how non-profits operate and make informed decisions about which organizations to support.