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Charity EINs, DNA and Research

EINs and charity DNA

What’s an EIN? Every 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.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest path to successful charity research.
  • The EIN is the gateway to information about a nonprofit, with the organization’s IRS Form 990 being the first place to look.
  • Find a Charity EIN and IRS Form 990 super-fast and free.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest way to avoid “charity” scams.

More about IRS Form 990

Each year, public charities (and most other nonprofits) are required to file “Form 990” information returns with the IRS. Failure to file can result in loss of nonprofit status.

Form 990 and Form 990-EZ provide a wealth of information about the charity’s operations and finances. Unlike an individual return, a charity’s Form 990 or 990-EZ is public information (and a charity is required to make its return available to you on request).

  • Charities with greater assets and/or revenues must file Form 990.
  • Charities with lesser assets and/or revenues file Form 990-EZ (an abbreviated version of Form 990).
  • Charities with annual revenues less than $50,000 file Form 990-N (a very simplified form).

A charity can choose to file a higher level return (for example, a charity with annual revenues less than $50,000 could file a Form 990-EZ or even a Form 990).

Note: Churches and government agencies are exempt from these annual filings (although some file anyway).

The forms are publicly accessible once they are processed. Note that there can be a 12-18 month delay from the end of the organization’s fiscal year to the latest available online form.

Find a nonprofit’s IRS Form 990 super fast and free

Charity EIN plate

Charities should prominently show their EINs

#1: Why should a charity prominently show its EIN?Charity DNA

  • To help donors protect themselves.
  • To help donors get the results they want.
  • To help law enforcement combat “charity” scams.
  • EINs are the key to finding a particular charity.
  • While charity names can be similar, no two charities have the same EIN. EIN checking is more precise than DNA testing.
  • Charity names can be confusingly similar. For example, we entered “american cancer” as the organization name in the directory search and got 129 results. We narrowed the name search to “american cancer society” and got 40 results. We entered “habitat for humanity” and got 1,228 results. We entered “veteran” and got 17,275 results!
  • Names can be used to mislead. Scam “charities” often adopt names confusingly similar to legitimate charities, siphoning off dollars needed for good works.

#2: Why should a donor care?

  • Using an EIN is the quickest path to successful charity research.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest way to avoid “charity” scams.
  • Using an EIN is a solid way to avoid confusion among legitimate charities.
  • Using an EIN helps in checking for a charity’s current address.
  • Using an EIN helps document charitable deductions at tax time.

#3: How can a donor use an EIN in charity research?

#4: Are charity EINs are public information?

Yes. Charity EINs are a key part of the public disclosure system mandated by the Internal Revenue Code. They’re available on the IRS website for anyone to find. And they’re the pathway to finding charity information filed with the IRS. The system’s already in place, let’s use it!

#5: Could showing charity EINs help “charity” scammers?

No, it will hurt them. If all charity fundraisers show their EINs, “charity” scammers will also have to show EINs. Potential donors will know to look and ask for the EIN when contacted for donations.

  • If a scammer doesn’t show an EIN, it will be immediately suspect to potential donors.
  • If a scammer uses its own EIN, potential donors can quickly check it out through, or Google.
  • If a scammer uses the EIN of a legitimate charity, it will easily get caught and will have given law enforcement clear proof of fraud.

#6: Where should a charity prominently show its EIN?

Show the EIN prominently –

  • On every piece of mail sent seeking a donation or other funding.
  • On every donation acknowledgement.
  • On the “About Us” page of the website and in the footer of every page.

No foundation would give a charity a grant unless the charity provided its EIN

Why should individual and family donors, who provide more than 80% of charity donations, have to waste time searching for charity EINs?

Savvy Donors get and use charity EINs as part of their research.