News and analysis
August 09, 2016

How to Find a Charity's Fundraising

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 out …

… how much a charity made and spent on fundraising events.

    Go to Form 990, Part VIII, Lines 8a-8c for the gross receipts, expenses, and net revenue or loss. 

    On Form 990-EZ, find that information in Part I, Lines 6a-6d.

    Whether they file a 990 or a 990-EZ, groups that collected more than $15,000 in gross income from fundraising events must also list income and expenses — including details such as food and beverages, entertainment, rent and facility costs, and so forth — for individual events that grossed more than $5,000.

    That information is in Schedule G, Part II.

… how much a charity made through federated campaigns.

    Go to Form 990, Part VIII, Line 1a

… how much a charity made through government grants. 

    Go to Form 990, Part VIII, Line 1e

… how much a charity made in noncash contributions.

    Go to Form 990, Part VIII, Line 1g

… how much a charity made and spent on gaming activities, such as bingo and pull tabs. 

    Go to Form 990, Part VIII, Lines 9a-9c.

    On Form 990-EZ, find that information in Part I, Lines 6a-6d.

    Whether they filed a 990 or a 990-EZ, groups list details for gaming activities in Schedule G, Part III. 

… how much a charity spent on professional fundraising. 

    Go to Form 990, Part I, Line 16a to find professional fundraising fees.

    If a group spent more than $15,000 on professional fundraising services, go to Schedule G, Part I, for a list of the 10 highest-paid fundraisers or entities, the gross receipts from their activities, whether they had custody or control of the contributions, and how much the nonprofit paid for the services.

From a Feeding America’s IRS Form 990

… how a charity used a professional fundraiser to solicit money.

    Go to Schedule G, Part I, which tells what method a professional fundraiser used to solicit gifts — in person or by mail, phone, email, and so forth.

… in what states a charity is registered or licensed to raise money. 

    Go to Schedule G, Part I, Line 3.

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.