I've seen they can be purchased from Guidestar, but wondered if there was an freely available open data source.

  • 1
    Guidestar doesn't have complete list of non-profits, right? Just a list of 501 c(3) nonprofits.
    – fgregg
    May 8, 2013 at 19:39
  • @fgregg it seems like the data contains more than just (c)3s---for example, it includes fraternal orgs which are (c)10s---but you're right in that the answer is probably more narrow than my question is asking. I'm just not sure what the appropriate narrowing is. May 8, 2013 at 23:05
  • Good point. How about 'all tax exempt nonprofits in the title' and then flesh it out in the body?
    – fgregg
    May 8, 2013 at 23:25

5 Answers 5


The IRS website has an Exempt Organizations Select Check that allows the user to search for organizations that:

  • Are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions
  • Were automatically revoked
  • Have filed Form 990-N (e-Postcard)

After selecting one of these options, a link will appear to download the entire database of organizations. The databases (plain-text files) are delimited by a vertical bar and should be easily imported into any RDBMS or spreadsheet application.

  • Database of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions (Pub. 78 data).

    Download page

    Database file (16 MB compressed, 59 MB raw)

  • Database of organizations whose federal tax exemption was automatically revoked for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years (Automatic Revocation of Exemption List).

    Download page

    Database file (16 MB compressed, 55 MB raw)

  • Database of e-Postcard filings.

    Download page

    Database file (39 MB compressed, 130 MB raw)

Sample of the database

000344394|Pandas Foundation Inc.|Salem|MA|United States|PC
000587764|Iglesia Bethesda Inc.|Lowell|MA|United States|PC
000635913|Ministerio Apostolico Jesucristo Es El Senor Inc.|Lawrence|MA|United States|PC

The columns (best guess) are:

EIN|Name|City|State|Country|Deductibility Status

The Deductibility Status is a code that:

describes the basis for the organization's or organizations' ability to accept tax-deductible, charitable contributions.

Deductibility Status Codes

  • As dwillis points out, the IRS data is only for organizations that have received tax exempt status (or filed a 990). It can take years for organizations to receive this status, but they are allowed to operate as if they are nonprofits in the mean time. The result is that there is no list of organizations who are nonprofits in the US. It's pretty common for political groups--legally operating as c4's and c6's--to pop up, run attack ads, and vanish before there's any record that they even exist.
    – jfenton
    May 9, 2013 at 18:39

The IRS maintains data on non-profits that have received a tax exemption from the agency, but that doesn't include every non-profit organization, only those who have received the tax exemption.

  • 2
    That's an important point because nonprofits are incorporated at the state level, and may operate locally (and in a limited capacity) with or without federal 501(c)3 status. May 8, 2013 at 20:32
  • 1
    [Disclosure: I'm the co-founder of OpenCorporates] As noted above many non-profits are incorporated entities, and although we haven't imported the IRS dataset, OpenCorporates has many non-profits in the database and the info is available through the API. These, for example, are all the Florida non-profits. May 17, 2013 at 21:29

Carl Malamud of PublicResource.org makes the 990 filings of non-profits available for download also via Wayback Machine (2016) in bulk, as well as extracts of the first two pages of these filing. These are the same filings that GuideStar uses for to build much of their service, though I do not think they use Public Resource as their primary source.


Also the National Center for Charitable Statistics (yes, it exists) provides a decent web interface and data downloads for a wide variety of registered and non-r4egistered orgs. No API that I can see though.


As of this posting, the PublicResource.org link doesn't work, the NCCS datasets are also paid, you must apply for OpenCorporate dataset use.

Below is a more detailed list including Activity and NTEE codes from an IRS page found though a Data.gov search:



Here is a GitHub project devoted to Open Data for Nonprofit Research: http://lecy.github.io/Open-Data-for-Nonprofit-Research/

..and code to parse the four separate regional files and combine them into a single Business Master File of all current Exempt Organizations: github.com/lecy/Open-Data-for-Nonprofit-Research/blob/master/Open_Nonprofit_Datasets/IRS_Business_Master_File.Rmd

Also on DataVerse here: dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/ZPHJYA

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