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STCM 470: Strategic Communication Campaigns: Tips for Researching Nonprofits

This guide provides resources for the course, STCM 470 : Strategic Communication Campaigns.

Learning About Your Nonprofit Organization

Research Tips

1. Mine the nonprofit's website and social media channels for information; read the "About Us" tab and look for resources or publications. See if the organization has posted an annual report. Check for press releases or a news section.

2. See if the Better Business Bureau or local Chamber of Commerce has information on them.

3. On the Nonprofits tab, search websites (including ProPublica's 990 Finder, 990 Finder - Candid, and CitizenAudit.org) for the nonprofit's 990 filings (many nonprofit organizations are registered with the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.) You can also do a web search using 990 and the name of the nonprofit.

4. On the Companies tab, search for your nonprofit in the directories Mergent Intellect and Reference Solutions.

5. On the News/Articles tab, search local and regional news sources. You can search for full-text articles in ProQuest US Newsstream, Access World News, Pioneer Press, and Business Journals (which includes the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.) You can also search newspaper websites directly, but they often have a paywall.

6. Perform an Advanced Google Search on your organization and limit it to the "PDF" format.  Many annual reports, program reviews, and grant applications will be on the web in this format. Be sure to check how current the information is, and evaluate where the information is coming from.

7. Set up a Google Alert on your nonprofit or their executive(s) to monitor the media.

Learn About the Nonprofit Sector

Learn about the Nonprofit Sector. What are the larger trends?

1. On the Industries tab, search in IBISWorld, ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry, and Business Source Premier for industry profiles and trade publications related to nonprofits. Use the format limiters to narrow your search results to these types of publications.

2. Look at projects in the National Center for Charitable Statistics to get data about nonprofits.

3. On the Market Research Reports tab, you can use Statista to locate statistics related to nonprofits. Possible keywords: nonprofits, nonprofit organizations, charities.

4.  On the News/Articles tab, search local, regional, and national news sources for articles and news stories on what the nonprofit does (examples: affordable housing, fundraising for a cause.) You can search for full-text articles in ProQuest US Newsstream, Access World News, Pioneer Press, and Business Journals (which includes the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.) You can also search newspaper websites directly, but they often have a paywall.

5. Search for relevant trade and professional associations in the nonprofit sector. You can find trade associations through web searching as well as in industry reports in IBISWorld and ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry.

6. Look in Candid under "Explore Issues" to see how the nonprofit sector is doing.

7. Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report has some helpful statistics on giving. You will need to give them your email to download the report.