Marketing with the Form 990

Maureen Butler News, Stories

Don’t make them search for your successes!

Have you ever wondered why nonprofits are required to file the Form 990 with the IRS? It is a monitoring tool used by the IRS to ensure tax-exempt organizations are appropriately using their tax-exempt status. Nonprofits, however, can use what may seem to be an onerous regulatory requirement to their advantage. According to the Form 990 instructions, this document is the primary or sole source of information for some members of the public and possibly some external evaluators of nonprofits. Therefore, it is influential in shaping the public perception of not-for-profit organizations ( Unlike corporate and individual tax returns, the Form 990 provides the opportunity to describe the mission, programs and achievements of your organization. Don’t just fill in the numbers and check the boxes. Take advantage of this annual opportunity to articulate what you do so that lay people understand and to convince others that your organization is worthy of their donations. Here are a few suggestions of items to include:

  • The number of clients served
  • Descriptions of the results of your programs
  • The number of volunteers involved in your programs