Getting Started with Financial Information

This tutorial shows how to find nonprofit organization financial data. The tutorial covers three resources: 

  • GuideStar;
  • The Foundation Directory; and
  • Reference USA.

These three resources are not the same. GuideStar focuses on nonprofits; the Foundation Directory focuses on grantmakers and grants; and ReferenceUSA has a business focus, but also includes nonprofit information.

Information in these resources may include an organization's:

  • total revenue;
  • total expenses;
  • operating budget;
  • IRS Form 990;
  • business expenditures;
  • grants received; and/or
  • grants awarded.
These resources are all accessible from the Legal & Tax page of the Nonprofit Sector Research Guide. This tutorial will link you directly to the resources.
 Legal and Tax Page image
 

Let's start by exploring GuideStar.  

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

Using GuideStar

1 of 2
Go to GuideStar. Your page should look like this:GuideStar Home page

Note: Access to GuideStar is free. The Portland State Library does not have a paid subscription.

I want to find information about one of Portland's longstanding nonprofit organizations, Outside In, so I'll search for it.

Outside In search

Voila! It's one of the first results. To view information about the organization simply click on the "read more" option.

Outside In Search Result

 The next page has two separate tabs of interest: "Financials" and "Forms 990 & Docs."

Financials and Forms tabs

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

Using GuideStar

2 of 2

Under "Financials" you will find the most recent reported year's:

  • Total Revenue;
  • Total Expenses; and
  • Assets & Liabilities.
Financials Tab
Historical financial information is not available in the free version of GuideStar.

Under "Forms 990 & Docs" you will find:

  • Forms 990 Received from the IRS; and
  • Forms 990 Provided by the Nonprofit.

 Forms tab

Financial statements are not available in the free version of GuideStar.

Let's move on to explore the Foundation Directory.

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

The Foundation Directory Online

1 of 2

The Foundation Directory Online is a resource for information on foundations, grantmakers, grants and more. It prefers finding 990s from grantmaking organizations over grant recipients. However, you can use it to find both.

You may only login to the Foundation Directory Online if you are physically located in the Portland State Millar Library.

Please go into The Foundation Directory and ask a librarian to log you in. 

Now you'll be able to search for 990s.

To search for 990s from grantmaking institutions, select only the 990s box under "select your databases" and enter the grantmaking institution's name.

Foundation Directory Search screenshot

My search for "Oregon Community Foundation" retrieved results from multiple years.

Foundation Directory Search Results screenshot

Simply click on the result you'd like to view.

Now let's discover how to view grant recipient 990s.

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

The Foundation Directory Online

2 of 2

Return to the Power Search page by clicking on "Power Search" in the menu.

Foundation Directory Power Search link

Use Power Search to find grant recipients. Select the "grants" option and enter your search for a grant recipient. Here I searched:

  • "Outside In" Oregon

Grant Search Screenshot

The results page lists results for grants received. Hence the many results for one organization.

Foundation Directory Grant Search Results Screenshot

Select a relevant result to view details.

The Grant Details page provides basic grant recipient information. It links to available 990s, shown below.

Grant Details Screenshot

Click on a year to view the grant recipient's 990 for that year.

Now let's explore ReferenceUSA.

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

ReferenceUSA

1 of 3

ReferenceUSA provides business information, but also includes nonprofit organizations. In it you can find an organization's:

  • demographics;
  • management directory; and
  • expenditures.

Go into ReferenceUSA. Your start page should look like this:

ReferenceUSA Home Page

Begin your search by selecting the U.S. Businesses database. 

Reference USA US Businesses
 
Next, enter your search terms and click search. Here I used "Outside In" in the company name field, and restricted the search for Portland, Oregon.
 
ReferenceUSA Search

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

ReferenceUSA

2 of 3

Your search results may show more than one appropriate record because an organization may have more than one financial reporting body. In this case select all relevant records to view them. 

ReferenceUSA Results

Click on the "details" button to view the records.

ReferenceUSA Details Button

Next you'll see the selected records. Navigate between them using the page forward and back buttons.

ReferenceUSA Pages

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

ReferenceUSA

3 of 3

Quicklinks will jump you to corresponding parts of that record. For Financial information go to "Business Expenditures."

ReferenceUSA Quicklinks

Here you'll see a breakdown of expenditures. If an organization has more than one record, be sure to compare the data presented from each one.

ReferenceUSA Business Expenditures

ReferenceUSA does not link to 990s. However, it can provide a broader view by providing demographics and other contextual information. Consider viewing the "Business Demographics" and "Management Directory" information to get a sense of the organization's size and leadership.

Click on the right-hand arrow below to continue the tutorial.

Get More Help

Thank you for using this tutorial.

If you need more help using GuideStar, The Foundation Directory, ReferenceUSA, or finding financial information for nonprofit organizations, please ask a librarian.

Certificate

Please enter your name and email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz.

You can enter multiple email addresses separated by commas. If you are doing this for a class, you may need to enter your instructor's email address also.