Five Ways to Check a Nonprofit

When you donate to a nonprofit, you want your hard earned money to be used wisely – to really make an impact and help those in need. We want to help you confirm that.

This article will help you answer the question, “Which nonprofit should I donate to?” There are five awesome resources you can use to learn more about the financials, programs and results of your favorite nonprofit organizations.

Use these tips to help you research a nonprofit organization before you give.


The Five Ways to Check a Nonprofit:

Form 990

A Form 990 will give you just about every piece of information you would need to know! You can find out its yearly income and expenses, nets assets and fund balances. You can also learn about the governing body and management of the organization as well as the compensation paid to its current and former officers, employees, etc. However, these forms are pretty lengthy, sometimes 100 pages long!

Some nonprofits will have its tax information and audits available on their website. If a charity does not have it on their website, just ask them! If they are unwilling to show you their tax information, you may want to reconsider donating to them because transparency is important.

Annual Report

The annual report is pretty much a less extensive and prettier version of the Form 990. If you want a quick view of the organization’s income, expenses, programs, success stories, board members, etc., this is a great option! Usually, nonprofits have this listed on their website, but if not, you can always ask them.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is a search tool that rates charity organizations based on their financial health, accountability and transparency. It allows donors to search for a charity organization by name or EIN (employer identification number). However, they only rate large charity organizations. For example, as of May 2017, Serve Denton isn’t rated because we do not meet the criteria of having at least $1 million in revenue. Thankfully, they do offer tips on how to evaluate small organizations that aren’t rated. You can check out that resource here!


GuideStar will provide you with the tax information you need such as the Form 990, the financial health of the nonprofit and an overview of their programs and results. They do not offer a rating system like Charity Navigator, but they do provide information about the operations of the organization. Donors can make a free account to access contact information and tax forms.

P.S. Serve Denton just reached the Platinum level! You can view our profile here.

IRS Nonprofit Charities Database

The last option is to search the IRS Nonprofit Charities Database. Donors can use the “Exempt Organizations Select Check” tool to see if a nonprofit has a 501(c)(3) tax exemption and view it's federal tax status and filings.


Other Tips:

  • There are many types of nonprofits and not all of them are tax-exempt. If you want your donation to be tax-deductible, make sure the organization is qualified to accept deductible donations.
  • Remember that nonprofit organizations still have administrative costs. If a nonprofit claims to give 100 percent of your donation towards helping the community directly, you may want to investigate them further.
  • Trust your gut. Making donations to nonprofits and supporting your community should feel good! If you have an uneasy feeling about an organization, look into them further to ensure your donation will really make a difference.
  • If you think you are being solicited by an organization that is not legit, you can report them on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.


Ways You Can Donate to Serve Denton:

  • Make a one-time donation to Serve Denton through our website or become a monthly donor by joining our Circle of Support!

Your donation dollars will go toward helping Serve Denton provide affordable office space for local nonprofit agencies so more of their money can go toward their mission. Our vision is to be the one-stop-shop for social services so those in need only have to visit one location to receive services. And when nonprofits are officing in the same location, they can better collaborate and communicate so those in need can become self-sufficient.

You can be a part of making this vision a reality. Now is the perfect time to start giving!


  • Donate your time by signing up for our monthly volunteer newsletter and find ways to serve your community! We collect volunteer opportunities from around Denton County and send them out at the beginning of each month.


We hope this has been a helpful resource so you feel more confident about the organizations you are donating to. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us by emailing!