NCCS Data Web Caveats

General

Researchers must carefully consider
how the data is collected and its inherent limitations.

Nonprofits are only required to file a tax return if their revenue is over a certain threshold, currently $25,000. If you are searching for a small organization you may not find it here, or you may only find it in a few years.

990 tax forms are currently unaudited, leading to a somewhat casual attitude on the part of filers, and these data are subject to all the risks of self-reported data. Information should therefore be used cautiously.

990s are required for every legal nonprofit entity earning more than the minimum revenue. However, in actuality often multiple entities will operate as one organization.

Change Over Time Issues

Searching by Employer Identification Number (EIN) is much more reliable than by name. Such searches will enable tracking of an organization through name changes.

If an organization is subsumed by another, larger one, researchers may have difficulty tracking it. It may subsequently file as a subsidiary or may not file separately from the larger organization at all.

Known Variable Issues

Ruling Date is supposed to be the date when an organization was approved for exempt status. However many older organizations have odd ruling dates so this variable is not completely reliable.

Other Expenses generally garners about twenty percent of any given organization's total expenses. Analyze this variable with care.

For more information see the NCCS' Guide to Using NCCS Data, especially the section, "Limitations of the Data and Recommended Error Checking Procedures."

 

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