Digging in: who donates to the nonprofits you care about?
Ever wonder who who donates to nonprofits, or an organization in particular? Lots of people do—some are curious how an organization funds its work and others are looking for prospects of their own. If you’ve ever tried to research this, you know it’s a challenge!
But don’t get discouraged. With just a little digging—using the tools and resources I will share in this blog—you will be able to get a picture of who donates to a particular nonprofit. Let’s get started:
How can I find the names of individual donors that support an organization?
Finding the names of individuals that donated to a nonprofit is difficult. The IRS doesn’t require most nonprofits to disclose where their donations come from. How much you can find out about individual donors depends on how much information a nonprofit or donor is willing to make public. While there is no comprehensive list or source that reveals individual donors who support a specific charity, you do have some options.
Many nonprofits thank their donors, especially major donors, in their annual reports, newsletters, and websites. While this is a good place to start, keep in mind it is not comprehensive because some donors request anonymity.
Also, some of Candid’s Funding Information Network locations provide free databases that allow you to research individual donors’ giving history. Try sites like Marquis Who’s Who on the Web and DonorSearch. Check your nearest location to see if it provides access to these databases.
While the IRS doesn’t require public disclosure of who donates to nonprofits, it does require disclosure of contributions to private foundations. You can find this information in the “Who’s Who” section of the grantmaker profile on Foundation Directory. You can either subscribe from your own location or visit Candid’s Funding Information Network locations to use it for free.
How can I find out what foundations support an organization?
The good news is that it is much easier to find out which private foundations give money to a particular nonprofit. Private foundations, including private corporate foundations, must publicly disclose all of their grants in their annual tax filings. Foundation Directory also allows you to research foundations and see which nonprofits they give grants to. You can search for a specific nonprofit or grantmaker in the “Organization Name” field or do a general search by subject or geography.
However, if a corporation gives money to a nonprofit through a corporate giving program, it is not subject to public disclosure rules. While this presents a challenge, you can still find information about these programs in Foundation Directory. There is currently information on more than 2,000 corporate giving programs.
What other resources can I use to find out who supports nonprofits I care about?
Some other resources you can use are:
- Forms 990: Private foundations list all of their grants in their annual Form 990-PF submitted to the IRS. 990s can be searched on 990 Finder. Grant information is also included in Foundation Directory, which is much easier to search than going through 990s directly.
- Web sites for foundations and corporate funders: Many foundations and corporate funders list their recent grantees in a press release or “honor roll” of donors.
- Nonprofit news outlets: Track nonprofit news or create web alerts for grant notices on your nonprofit(s) or donor(s) of interest. Some useful news outlets include Candid’s Philanthropy News Digest, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Candid’s various free newsletters.
Remember, while this information is not always easy to find, a little digging in the right places will help you uncover a goldmine of information about who donates to nonprofits. To learn more, visit Candid’s knowledge base for the full article on researching an organization’s individual and foundation donors.