A Quick Guide to Finding Nonprofit Info.

The word Information in a magnifying glassA request reaches your desk from a new nonprofit. You’re interested, but wisely cautious. How might you learn more about them?

Information on Individual Nonprofits

  1. First stop: your local community foundation’s website. Many community foundations generate databases of active local nonprofits. Here you’ll find lots of information and learn if the nonprofit meets minimum standards. To locate your nearest community foundation use this locator.
  2. Since only some community foundations create databases, your next best option is Google. Before you click on the specific nonprofit, check for copycats and negative reviews-glance at the list of organizations and topics that pop up.
  3. Review their website or Facebook page. Discover annual reports, board list, blogs, missions, and more.  
  4. Join GuideStar–an information consolidator. It’s free. Once enrolled, enter in the nonprofit’s name. Look for the nonprofit’s IRS 990 report. Review the agency’s finances, board member list, and executive salaries.
  5. Evaluators. How does this nonprofit compare to others? Several national evaluators exist including: BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator. The challenge? The relatively small number of organizations evaluated to date. Charity Navigator provides comparative data on 8,000 entities and the BBB 11,300. About 1. 5 million nonprofits exist in the US.

Besides studying the request you received, these five steps will help you to form an opinion about the wisdom on investing in a specific nonprofit. While bad players are definitely out there, the majority of nonprofits that seek your support come with good intentions. Do your homework and invest with confidence.   

Author
Karen Eber Davis

Before founding her firm, Karen Eber Davis developed the Sarasota County Community Development Block Grant Program. Under her leadership, this infant program received the National Association of Counties National Affordable Housing Award for the Down Payment Assistance Program. To date, the program helped over 1,800 families realize their dreams of homeownership. She also worked with the City of Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, where she developed the division’s first audit program. In an earlier position at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Tampa, she organized senior, youth, and children groups plus family activities. Her youth staffing work with the Florida Synod of the Lutheran Church in America supported youth ministries in 120 congregations in Florida.