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Knowledge Base
Q:
How can I find information about a particular (non-grantmaking) charity?
A:

Several online resources can help you research charities and verify their exempt status. Some sites provide detailed descriptive information while others provide only the most basic details.

Be prepared to look at several sources, and be aware that you might not find any information on the organization in question. Below are suggested resources to start with:

  • The organization's web site, if one exists. Most established nonprofits will describe their missions and activities. Some will post annual reports, financial data, and staffing.
  • IRS Publication 78 or GuideStar to verify its exempt status.
  • GuideStar, Economic Research Institute, or our 990 Finder are free tools to access IRS information returns.
  • Secretary of State or other agency that monitors charities. Check to see if the organization is registered and in good standing. However, not all nonprofits are incorporated, so these would not be listed with the Secretary of State.
  • Media sources or the Internet. You can probably search many media sources through your local library, as well as search the Internet, in order to see what has been reported or said about the charity.
  • Charity watchdog groups. Check the group’s methodology to understand how it reviews and rates charities.

Selected examples of these resources are listed below.

If you are seeking information about a grantmaker, please see these Knowledge Base articles:

- How do I find foundation grants for my nonprofit?
- How do I approach a foundation and build a successful grantee-funder relationship?

See also our related Knowledge Base articles:

- Where can I find an organization’s Form 990 or 990-PF?
- What do I do if I suspect that a charity is a fraud?

More articles about foundations»

Selected resources below may also be helpful.

Web Sites

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Books and Articles

Check title availability at our libraries and Funding Information Network locations or your local libraries.

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