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Backgrounding Nonprofits & Companies

Links with an asterisk * connect to tutorials about how to read the documents.


Tax-exempt corporations file annual financial statements, called 990s,* with the IRS that must be made publicly available at their office. They also are available through a public records request to the IRS and through various online sources. The documents include revenues, expenses and highest paid employees.

IRS Tax Exempt Status check


Foundation Center 990Finder

Many nonprofits also file more detailed financial statements with the relevant state attorney general or secretary of state.

“Federal audits. Nonprofits, state/local governments, and other noncommercial entities expending $750,000+ of federal funds in a year are required to undergo a standardized audit of their financials and compliance. The US Federal Audit Clearinghouse maintains a public database of those audits; it offers bulk downloads of the report data (about the auditee, auditor, findings, and more), as well a tool to search and access individual reports.” — Data Is Plural 


SEC for publicly traded companies

Edgar company filings search

10-K annual report* with audited financial statements

10-Q quarterly filing* with financial statements and notes about pending lawsuits, investigations and other risks

8-K* current information of likely significance to shareholders

Def-14 annual proxy statement with executive pay and perks

Public and private companies

Business charters are filed with the relevant state secretary of state and often available online

UCCs are filed with the secretary of state when collateral is put up for a loan


Occupational & business licenses by state 


Open Ownership keeps a database on who owns and controls 8.4 million companies drawn from European government records: Open Ownership Register


US EPA Facility Registry System for info on every site and facility regulated by EPA