FAQ – Contents

What's an EIN?

Charity EIN 12-3456789Every charity has its own unique federal employer identification number (EIN), which it obtains by applying to the IRS. An EIN is typically a nine-digit number, shown like 12-3456789. A few charities have EINs with eight or fewer digits (normally shown with a leading zero like 01-2345678).

While charity names can be similar, no two charities have the same EIN. EIN checking is more precise than DNA testing.

We encourage charities to prominently display their EINs, to help donors find charities and avoid “charity” scams.

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How can I find an organization's EIN?

Charity EINs are the key to researchHaving the organization’s EIN (employer identification number) is the key to quick and exact research about a nonprofit or charity.

We suggest two ways to find an organization’s EIN,

Every IRS-recognized nonprofit and charity (more than 1.5 million) can be found at CharityCheck101.org.

Why do EINS matter?

Charity EINs are the key to researchWhile two charities may have very similar names, no two charities will have the same EIN (federal employer identification number).

  • Because each charity has its own EIN, EINs are a great way to avoid confusion among charities.
  • EINs are the fastest way to research specific charities.
  • EINs are the quickest way to check whether an organization is actually a charity — and accordingly to avoid “charity” scams.

We encourage charities to prominently display their EINs, to help donors find charities and avoid “charity” scams.

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Where can I find more info about a charity?

CharityCheck101.org is a place to screen and find basic data on 1.6 million+ nonprofits and charities.

  1. The organization’s report at CharityCheck101.org will provide its EIN (employer identification number).
  2. Use the EIN to do fast research about the organization at one or more of the Top Seven Charity Research Websites.

Are there nonprofits that are not charities?

All charities are nonprofits, not all nonprofits are charities.

(A) What’s a “nonprofit”?

To be a nonprofit, an organization must fit within one of 34 different Internal Revenue Code (IRC) categories — based on its function or mission. Most organizations have to apply to the IRS for a written determination that they are entitled to nonprofit status. Churches and government agencies don’t have to apply.

Being a nonprofit means that the organization can operate without paying income taxes to Uncle Sam on their main activities Because of this, nonprofits are often referred to as being “tax-exempt.”

Being a nonprofit does not mean that you can claim a charitable contribution deduction for money you give to the organization. For 22 of the 34 nonprofit categories, there is no charitable contribution deduction. IRS Publication 557 lays this out in great detail on pages 72 and 73.

The five largest nonprofit categories account for more than 91% of the total registered with the IRS.

  • Section 501(c)(3) — 71.3% of all nonprofits — religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, public safety, amateur sports, prevention of cruelty to children or animals. Charitable contribution deduction is available.
  • Section 501(c)(4) — 7.1% — Civic leagues, social welfare organizations. NO charitable contribution deduction.
  • Section 501(c)(8) — 4.9% — Fraternal benefit societies. Charitable contribution deduction available if for certain 501(c)(3) purposes.
  • Section 501(c)(6) — 4.6% — Business leagues, chambers of commerce. NO charitable contribution deduction.
  • Section 501(c)(5) — 3.6% — Labor, agricultural, horticultural organizations. NO charitable contribution deduction.
  • Section 501(c)(7) — 3.6% — Social and recreational clubs. NO charitable contribution deduction.
  • Section 501(c)(19) — 2.2% — Post or organization of armed forces veterans. NO charitable contribution deduction.

The IRC also makes an important distinction within the section 501(c)(3) category — public charities vs. foundations. The distinction is based on where the organization’s financial support comes from (with private foundation support typically coming from a small group of large donors).

(B) What’s a “charity”?

For us (and most others) a charity is

  • a nonprofit that qualifies under section 501(c)(3) and
  • is also a public charity (vs. a private foundation).

Generally you can claim a charitable contribution deduction for a donation to a 501(c)(3) public charity. You can also claim the deduction for donations to some nonprofits which are not 501(c)(3) organizations, at times depending on the intended use of the donation. See IRS Publication 557 at pages 72 and 73.

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Where are the Star ratings?

You’re at CharityCheck101.org — where you can find identity and tax status information on more than 1.6 million IRS-recognized charities and other nonprofits. We do not provide Star ratings.

The best know site that provides Star ratings is CharityNavigator.org — it covers more than 7,000 charities.

Which organizations qualify for the CharityCheck directory?

Every organization listed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as tax-exempt is included in the CharityCheck directory.

We obtain the IRS list by going to its online Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract.

Churches and government units generally do not file with the IRS (not being required to do so). Unless they have filed, they are not included in the IRS list. Government units include states, counties, cities and towns and their agencies.

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Why isn't my nonprofit listed?

We see five possible answers. The first three are the most likely.

  1. You might not have searched in a way that the database recognizes. The fastest and most accurate searches are based on using the organization’s 9-digit EIN (federal employer identification number) on the Reverse Lookup page. If you are doing a name search, use fewer words in the search box. Try searching again.
  2. The organization is an IRS-recognized nonprofit or charity, but has not yet been included in the IRS public database. 
    • There can be a significant delay (months) between the issuance by the IRS of a tax-exemption determination letter (or reinstatement) for an organization and the time the organization is listed in the IRS public database called the Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract.
    • We only include organizations in the CharityCheck101.org directory once they included by the IRS in the IRS public database.
  3. The organization is not an IRS-recognized nonprofit or charity (or has lost that status). In recent years the IRS has revoked the status of thousands of organizations based on their failure to file annual reports with the IRS.
    • Note that “mini nonprofits” which have not obtained an IRS determination are not included in the IRS list.
  4. The IRS has made an error in showing the organization’s status in the IRS data files. At CharityCheck101.org we obtain our list directly from the IRS’s official Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. If there’s an error in the IRS data files, that error will also show in our directory.
  5. There’s a glitch in the CharityCheck101.org directory system. If possibilities 1 through 4 are not the case, please let us know about the issue by using our Contact Us page.

What about "mini nonprofits" and the IRS?

An organization can be treated as a nonprofit — without obtaining a determination from the IRS —  if it has gross receipts in each taxable year of normally not more than $5,000. It must meet the other requirements for IRC section 501(c)(3) status and it cannot be a private foundation.

Contributions to these “mini nonprofits” are tax deductible. Although there is no requirement to do so, some mini nonprofits seek IRS recognition because recognition assures contributors that contributions are deductible.

How can I change information about my organization?

The information about organizations found at CharityCheck101.org comes directly from the public IRS datafiles.

The IRS updates the public datafiles after an organization files a new Form 990 or other new information with the IRS. There is a time lag between the organization filing and the updating of the public IRS datafiles.

If you need to change information, you might contact the IRS Exempt Organizations professionals directly.

But probably the best way to get the information updated is to include the new information in all future 990 and other filings your organization makes with the IRS.

Once the IRS publicly posts the changes, we will follow their lead.