Published: April 12th, 2006 01:00 AM
Not long ago, a friend wrote expressing dismay at information he had found about a nonprofit, suggesting that many people might not know how to do the digging he did. I think he’s right, but it goes beyond that. It’s also important to know how to use the information you find.
My friend was exploring a nonprofit by looking at its Form 990. This form must be filed by every tax-exempt nonprofit that brings in more than $25,000. It’s like a tax return, except we don’t pay taxes. We still have to report our income and expenses to the IRS, and the 990 is the way we do it.
As a community service, an organization named GuideStar, in partnership with the IRS, posts all 990s on its Web site. By law, 990s must be made available to the public, and GuideStar has figured out a good way to do that. Its Web site is www.guidestar.org."