NOTE: 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? 

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. Remember that the existence of a website doesn't mean that any for-profit or nonprofit organization is trustworthy.
  • The IRS's Tax Exempt Organizations Search database or GuideStar to verify its exempt status.
  • Our 990 Finder, GuideStar, Economic Research Institute, ProPublica or the National Center for Charitable Statistics are free tools to access information nonprofits report to the IRS.
  • 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.

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

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