Effective nonprofit research requires a broad range of information including resources on leadership, performance indicators, marketing, board governance, volunteer administration, and fiscal management. Links are provided to relevant print resources, journals, Library of Congress guides, and online resources.
The 990 is the tax form the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable and nonprofit organizations to submit annually. The Form 990 is designed to increase financial transparency and includes revenue, expenditure, and income data in addition to information used to assess whether a nonprofit aligns with federal requirements for tax-exempt status. The forms are publicly accessible once they are processed, but note that there can be a 12-18 month delay from the end of the organization's fiscal year to the latest available online form.
This page offers resources for understanding and completing the Form 990 as well as information on how to locate a tax exempt organization's 990.
These sources offer guidance on reading, understanding, and applying Form 990 data. Each resource includes information on what data is requested and collected by the IRS and where to find that data. There are also instructions for adding additional forms and responding to appended sections
Locating a Form 990 text
The 990 is a public document that you can search for on the websites for the Secretary of State or the Attorney General where the organization is incorporated. In addition, 990s are available from a variety of open source and subscription sources. You may also request them from an organization or from the IRS.
The following are freely available, open source sites, unless otherwise noted, where you can locate IRS Form 990s.
Individuals and businesses are often solicited to donate money, goods or services to support national or local charities. Consumers should exercise due diligence by searching local, state, and national resources to ensure that the individuals and organizations soliciting contributions are legitimate.
This section provides information for consumers on nonprofit associations. Check the Form 990 page for additional information on this Internal Revenue Service form, which provides detailed information on tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and Section 527 political organizations.
The following resources provide information to datasets related to charities, tax exempt organizations, and volunteers
The following links to government and organization information on the nonprofit sector, including industry information. Government resources are drawn from the IRS, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and U.S. Census Bureau.
The resources in this section provide information on fundraising and grant writing to assist patrons in locating information on how to fundraise, locate grants, and write grant proposals.
The federal government does not offer grants or "free money" to individuals to start a business or cover personal expenses. Websites or other publications claiming to offer "free money from the government" are scams and should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.
The U.S. government does offer federal benefit programs designed to help individuals and families in need become self-efficient or lower their expenses. Information on state government benefits is available on the State Governments page of USA.gov.
This is a selected list of university centers and organizations that focus on nonprofit data collection and reporting, providing resources for managing and funding nonprofits, and hosting conferences for those involved or interested in nonprofit organizations. Many of these centers are attached to advanced degree programs nonprofit management and continuing education trainings.