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Check Charity Finances

About Form 990

Form 990 Scanning

Check Charity FinancesScanned images of Forms 990 are now available on the Internet through a joint effort of the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS, at the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy) and GuideStar, the web site for Philanthropic Research, Inc. (PRI). The general public, state charity officials, researchers, media representatives, and others interested in the scanned images can access these tax returns through the Guidestar and NCCS web sites. Search options enable users to locate charitable organizations by name, key word, city, state, zip code, revenue size, or type of organization.

The creation of this internet-accessible database of scanned images of Form 990 involves a unique public/private partnership of PRI and NCCS in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service. Starting in July 1998, the Internal Revenue Service began scanning the paper Forms 990 submitted by charitable organizations. The IRS then forwards the scanned images to Guidestar and NCCS, where they are formatted for access on the internet. On October 18, 1999, these scanned images were posted through the web sites of Guidestar (http://www.guidestar.org) and NCCS (http://nccs.urban.org). Approximately 220,000 Forms 990 will accessible by the end of 1999 and will be up-dated as new scanned images are received.

Accessing these scanned images of the Form 990 through NCCS (http://nccs.urban.org) allows users to compare and contrast the financial activities of groups of charities at a very detailed level. Using the existing NCCS database and the new data from the Forms 990, more detailed financial portraits and comparative benchmarks can be developed for the charitable sector or for specific types of organizations. Using this powerful tool will increase our understanding of charitable organizations-their structure, missions, investment income, administrative costs, and interactions with the government and the business sectors. This allows individual donors, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations to make more informed decisions.


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