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There's another question about a list of all nonprofits, and this answer is kind of buried in the answers to that one. Also, this question came up today on the NICAR-L mailing list. It's a common question, so it seemed worth documenting here.

From resource.org:

The Internal Revenue Service requires all tax-exempt organizations to file an annual Form 990, “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax.” The form details the revenues and expenses, assets and liabilities, and a wealth of information, such as the compensation of executives, any unrelated business income, whether the organization engages in lobbying activities, and the stated accomplishments of the organization.

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Resource.org has gathered reports dating back to 2002 and says that they process new data monthly. Bulk data can be pulled from here.

For those who prefer a simple search, the Economic Research Institute (ERI) has a database of forms dating back to 2003.

In at least one case, a journalist on the NICAR-L list reported back that there was a form in the ERI database which was not in the Public Resource set, so proceed with due caution.

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There's also a good list just released from ProPublica starting for 2012 http://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/

And you can always request a 990 directly from an entity -- it is required to give it to you.

Also, GuideStar aggregates them and allows you to obtain one-at-a-time at no cost. Aggregate data will cost, however.

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Citizen Audit is a good alternative to guide star. Edit :

Why ?

Pro :

  • The search process is less click hungry.

  • Getting several fiscal years at a time is possible on a unique page.

  • More fiscal years available for IRS 990. ( generally go until 2005/2006, where guidestar give, in most case, the last 3 years.
  • API and bulk access are a possibility ( if you subscribe to a plan )
  • On the result page, you have a OCR version of the document, for handy ctrl+f textual research.

Con :

  • Some PDF are polluted by banners on top. ( Not-blocking, but annoying. Easily crop-able though )
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    Please consider updating your answer to explain more about why Citizen Audit is a good alternative. It will be much more helpful to people who come here trying to learn how to access and use this data. – Joe Germuska Mar 31 '15 at 14:12

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