News and analysis
August 09, 2016

How to Find a Charity's Assets, Liabilities, Other Financials, and Accounting Information

Use this guide as a quick reference to find important information on nonprofit groups from the forms they’re required to file with the Internal Revenue Service. 

Most federally tax-exempt groups must complete a 990, a 990-EZ, or a 990-N. Churches and state organizations are exempt. (Foundations must file a 990-PF.)

This guide shows where to find information in the 990, the 990-EZ, and any attached schedules. The 990-EZ is mentioned only where it covers a particular topic.

(The 990-N, filed by tiny groups, is essentially an e-postcard with only the most basic information.)

I want to find a charity’s …

… total assets, liabilities, and fund balance.

    Go to Form 990, Part I, Lines 20-22.

    For a breakdown of assets and liabilities, go to Part X, the Balance Sheet.

    For the Form 990-EZ, go to Part II.

… information on donor-advised funds.

    Go to Schedule D, Part I, which includes the total number of funds as well as the aggregate value at the end of the year and the value of contributions and grants.

From a United Way Worldwide’s IRS Form 990

… information on endowment funds.

    Go to Schedule D, Part V, which includes the beginning-of-year and end-of-year balances, contributions, grants or scholarships, administrative expenses, and so forth. It also contains questions about the intended use of the funds and what kind of group administers them. If they’re administered by a related organization, information on that organization is in Schedule R. 

From a Feeding America’s IRS Form 990

… land, buildings, and equipment.

    Go to Schedule D, Part VI.

    On the 990-EZ, go to Part II, Line 23.

… program-related investments.

    Go to Schedule D, Part VIII.

… loans, grants, or business transactions with a nonprofit involving any of the group’s officials.

    Go to Schedule L to find out if an officer, director, trustee, or key employee gave to or received from a charity a loan, grant, or assistance or engaged in a business transaction. See instructions for Schedule L for details on the types of transactions that should be included.

From a United Way Worldwide’s IRS Form 990

… information about a housing allowance or first-class travel 

    Go to Schedule J. Part I, which also asks about travel for companions, health-club fees, personal services such as a maid or chauffeur, and so forth.

From a Goodwill Industries International’s IRS Form 990

… information about any diversion of assets.

    Go to Form 990, Part VI, Question 5. If the answer is yes, it’s possible that the group suffered embezzlement or other fraud. 

… accounting method.

    Go to Form 990, Part XII.

    For the 990-EZ, see the top section, Line G.

… time period covered by the 990.

    This appears at the very top of both the Form 990 and 990-EZ, Section A. If that part is left blank, it means the group uses the calendar year. Note that compensation information is always for the calendar year, regardless of whether the organization follows a fiscal year for other accounting purposes.

From a Task Force for Global Health’s IRS Form 990

… financial statements and reporting

    Go to Form 990, Part XII.

… audit information.

    Go to Form 990, Part XII.

… reconciliation of revenue in audited financial statements with revenue in the organization’s 990.

    Go to Schedule D, Part XI.

… reconciliation of expenses in audited financial statements with expenses in the organization’s 990.

    Go to Schedule D, Part XII.

Additional Information

See the resource section to find out where you can download charities’ tax forms and instructions, data on big grants and donations, and other information.

Organizations are required to file their 990s by the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of their fiscal year — so for groups that follow the calendar year, May 15. But nonprofits can get an automatic 90-day extension and may request a second one. So it’s common for a form due on May 15 not to be filed until mid-November. If a charity has filed its forms but they’re not yet available on a database like GuideStar or ProPublica, you may be able to get a copy sooner by contacting the nonprofit directly.

Most federally tax-exempt organizations must complete a 990 as a condition of their tax status. Churches and state organizations are exempt. 

Nonprofits that have gross receipts of less than $200,000 and total assets of less than $500,000 may file a Form 990-EZ, which requires less information than the full 990. Those that normally bring in less than $50,000 can file a 990-N e-postcard, which shows only very basic information, including the name and address of the group and the principle officer and confirmation of its gross receipts. 

The Chronicle’s 990 guides were compiled by Alex Daniels, Marilyn Dickey, Joshua Hatch, Megan O’Neil, Timothy Sandoval, and Eden Stiffman, with assistance from Lori Budnick, a CPA and partner at BlumShapiro, and Brian Mittendorf, a professor of accounting at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.