Form 990 Can Be a Public Relations Tool

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

Many nonprofits consider the IRS Form 990 to be a dreary necessity at tax time. In the 2008 tax year, major revisions were made to the Form. Nonprofits have been slow to realize the impact the revisions may have for donors and the public.  The diverse information provided in the new Form is now available to the public and can be found online free at at such sites as Guidestar.org, and nccs.urban.org.

In a recent article by Michael Wyland, an author and member of the editorial advisory board for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Wyland points out the advantages to providing accurate and complimentary information on the Form.[1] The Form displays not only financial information (assets and liabilities), but also facts that address governance, programs, and fundraising. His article shows a breakdown of the Form with its schedules and functional area relevance, because not every nonprofit completes the same schedules. However, he points out that most of the 990 parts and schedules still address the multiple categories of governance, programs, and fundraising.

As Wyland notes,”not all organizations complete all parts of the Form, and not all file each and every schedule. For example, while most 501(c)(3) public charities must file Schedule B (Schedule of Contributions), it is considered confidential and not disclosed to the public. Private foundations, on the other hand, must disclose and make it publicly available.”

Never the less, ALL Form 990’s do reveal to the public governance (governing bodies and management, policies, and disclosures), programs, and fundraising. A potential donor may look for efficiencies and financial data, but still seek the charity that meets his/her passion for a particular service or need. A potential volunteer may consider who manages the organization and where they can fit in. It is important for all nonprofit staffs and boards to be aware of the public exposure, but also the opportunity to be more advantageously promoted to the public.

[1] Your 990: What Nonfinancial Matters Does It Reveal to the Media and the Public, Michael Wyland, Nonprofit Quarterly, November 17, 2017

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org