990s available on Guidestar.org for free

Did you know your 990 for the last two or three years is available on-line?  An organization called GuideStar receives an electronic copy of all 990s from the IRS and posts them to the GuideStar web site.  With simply a free registration, all of those 990s are available to anyone with internet access.  The only thing not on the public copy is Schedule B, which contains a list of large donors.  Think about it….anyone on the planet, including those who do not like your organization or your vision, can learn this about your organization:

  • Names of board members,
  • detailed functional allocation of expenses,
  • officer listing,
  • salaries for key staff, and
  • names and salary of the top staff making over $100,000. 

You are required to include that information on your 990 and also required to make it available to anyone who asks for the form.  It is also available on-line to anyone who registers at GuideStar.

The takeaway from this discussion?  Read carefully what is said on your 990 and keep in mind other people can easily get it. 

The wise person would use the places on the 990 for comments or descriptions as a marketing tool.

Go to http://www.guidestar.org/

Please don’t think I am suggesting the easy availability of 990s is a bad thing. Quite the contrary.  I think it is wonderful.  We just need to be aware of the downside and adjust accordingly.

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