Understanding the US IRS Form 990 - Nonprofit Return

Two complementary resources for learning about nonprofits are their US IRS Form 990 and their Guidestar Profile - assuming the nonprofit has updated it with current information.

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Accessing the US IRS Form 990 on Guidestar.org

2:47 min YouTube Video - Here's a brief overview of the very basic work steps for searching for a nonprofit organization using the Guidestar.org website. Shows how to use the Geography, Financial and Organization filters to find the right organization. In subsequent videos in this playlist, I'll talk through the US IRS Form 990 and the Guidestar profile.

Review of Nonprofit Profiles available on Guidestar.org

3:05 min YouTube video - You can access the US IRS Form 990 – Nonprofits “tax” return from an organizations Guidestar profile. This video provides an introduction to the “Charting Impact” questions that organizations self-report and post on their Guidestar profile - worth reviewing prior to diving into into the Form 990.

How to Review a US IRS Form 990 Nonprofit Return

9:58 min YouTube Video - The 7 questions to ask when you walk through a nonprofit's US IRS Form 990 documenting the financial results of their activities.

Use the “Gear” on the lower right corner of your screen to “speed up” or “slow down” the video.

Here are the questions:

Part I. Summary * Who is this organization? Confirm that this is the organization you need to review – many have similar names. * How big are they? Look at the number of reported employees and volunteers along with financial scale. * Are they healthy? Download prior years and look for trends.

Part III. Statement of Program Service Accomplishments * What do they really do? Largest programs are described and the direct expenses are stated.

Part IV Checklist of Required Schedules - q. 17-18 * How do they raise funds? Check boxes identify where additional forms describe their fundraising activities.

Part VII. Compensation * Are they professionally managed? Do they rely on Contractors?

Part IX. Statement of Functional Expenses * How do they spend their money? Subjective allocation of detailed expenses by Programs; Mgmt; Fundraising.

Part X. Balance Sheet * Are they Healthy? – Part 2 – Unrestricted; Temporarily Restricted and Restricted Fund Balances