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The Non-Profit Sector in the United States:
A Guide to Selected Information Sources

 Table of Contents

Print Resources
Starting a Nonprofit
Associations & Government Agencies
University Centers & Programs
Statistics & Data Sets
LC Catalog Searches
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Subscription Databases

Please note that many of these databases originally appeared as print directories, some of which continue to be published in print form as well as in database. Information on current and earlier print versions of these database titles is also included below.

A complete list of LC subscription databases can be found in E-Resources Online Catalog. This list is viewable off site, however access to these subscription databases is only available onsite. Subscription databases not included on this list are not available at the Library of Congress. If you are affiliated with a research organization or university you may have access to some of these subscription databases and tools mentioned below. Check all libraries with which you have an affiliation, including public libraries where you reside, to verify what subscription databases are available to you.

Foundation Directory. New York, Foundation Center, 1960-
LC Call Number: AS911.A2 F65
LC Catalog Record: 60013807
Online as Foundation Directory Online Professional (Onsite access only)

This is a subscription version of the database provided by the Foundation Center.External Link It is a comprehensive database of current grants made by foundations, corporate foundations, and other grant-making nonprofits, broader in scope than many other online databases. It provides program details for nearly 100,000 grant making public charities, foundations and corporate donors in the U.S. This database allows you to search nearly 650,000 IRS 990 forms for grant making organizations, companies, 120,000+ grant makers and 3 million+ grants. It is updated weekly.

National Directory of Nonprofit Organizations. Rockville, Md.: Taft Group, c1990-
LC Call Number: AS29.5 .N38
LC Catalog Record: 90641518
Online as part of the Gale Directory Library (Onsite access only)

The online version on the Gale Directory Library platform provides information on organizations of all kinds including nonprofits. Before you use the digital version, you may find the following tips helpful:
  • To perform a subject search: Search [subject area] as a keyword AND [synonyms to subject area] as a keyword with no geographic limits.
  • If you wish to browse the entire National Directory of Nonprofit Organizations just choose it from the dropdown menu and click on Search.
  • If you wish to see previous editions of the National Directory of Nonprofit Organizations just choose “current and back file directories by edition” and designate the year or edition. The Library of Congress has 2008 to present editions in digital form of this directory.
  • Please note that the 2014 print edition of this title provides names, addresses, and annual income figures of more than 260,000 organizations, 181,020 of which have incomes in excess of $100,000. In addition, phone numbers are provided for 100% of listees in the print version which is available in The Library of Congress, Business Reference Collection. Entries in both volumes cover all twenty-two of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service 501(c) subsections, as well as IRS sections 501(e), 501(k), and 4947(a)(2).
  • Previous print editions can be requested onsite at The Library of Congress.

Encyclopedia of Associations. Detroit, Gale Research Co., 1961-
LC Call Number: AS22 .E5
LC Catalog Record: 76046129
Online as part of the Gale Directory Library (Onsite access only)

Provides lists of all kinds of associations, including trade associations, with contact information, websites, etc. This resource covers international, U.S. national and regional associations. (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link database, created by Metasoft, offers detailed information on the largest foundations, corporate giving, and federal grants. It also provides a library of sample grant proposals that is useful.

Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

Membership only site from The American Institute of Philanthropy. Covers approximately 600 nonprofits. Directory information on the organizations included is available without charge.

Director Connections (beta) (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

This database is a part of It is a mapping product designed to show you at a glance the diverse network of connections between foundations and the various boards on which their directors serve, allowing you to view all director relationships between all major foundations and corporations in both Canada and the U.S.

Foundation Grants to Individuals Online (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

This is a specialized subscription database from the Foundation Center External Link (New York) which profiles over 6,500 foundations and public charities that fund students, artists, researchers, and other individual grant seekers.

Foundation Maps (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

Another specialized product from the Foundation Center External Link (New York), Foundation Maps is a data visualization tool that provides an easy way to identify what grant makers are funding and where their grants are currently distributed around the world.

Foundation Search (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

According to a review External Link in The NonProfit Times, this database: “includes information on more than 98,000 U.S. grant makers and their grants of $4,000 or more. It claims access to information on 6.5 million grants. It is built around its “Grant Visualizer,” allowing access to information through a map interface... The profile for each foundation features graphs of grants by sector, year, and region allowing you to see at a glance a foundation’s concentration ... based on the Form 990s.” The review also mentions the handy “990 Keyword Search” which provides highlighted search terms and capability to save a prospect list using “My Foundation Manager” in order to monitor your project folder. This tool will allow FoundationSearch to push email notices to you if there are updates to your selected foundations’ records. You can also record notes on each foundation for future reference.

GuideStar Premium (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

A comprehensive and authoritative source of information on both grant makers and grantseeking tax-exempt charities. More robust than the freely available GuideStar.External Link It is updated daily.

NOZAsearch (not available at the Library of Congress) External Link

This database is a useful prospect research tool as it helps nonprofits identify, cultivate, and solicit major gifts for their organizations. It claims to be the world's largest searchable database of charitable donations. The content comes from publicly available sources, and includes annual reports, newsletters, Internet sources no longer available online, and donor lists. The database lists nearly 50 million donations to U.S. nonprofits, providing access to donor name, gift amount, donation type, gift year, recipient organization, etc. Customized mailing lists for more than 5,000 donors upon request. This database answers the question of who gives what and why.

Free Databases

990 Finder (Foundation Center) External Link

This search interface allows you to search IRS Forms 990 and 990-PF of private foundations, public charities, and other nonprofits.

Catalog of NonProfit Literature (Foundation Center) External Link

This database provides access to the unique content of the Foundation Center's five libraries which hold works on philanthropy. Provides more than 30,000 full bibliographic citations, of which nearly 22,000 have descriptive abstracts. It is updated daily.

Charity Navigator External Link

Useful for donors to charities. Provides ratings of charities. Purported as being America's leading independent charity evaluator. Before using this tool read their frequently asked questions.External Link

Exempt Organizations Business Master File

List of nonprofit organizations maintained by the IRS. The Business Master File is free to download and is separated into large Excel files for regions of the U.S., all U.S. states (some states will have multiple files if there are a large number of nonprofits in that state), Puerto Rico, and a list for international nonprofits which excludes Puerto Rico. View Instructions on how to use the Business Master File.

Foundation Directory Online Free External Link

The free version of this database produced by the Foundation Center. Includes a free search tool that has replaced Foundation Finder. It provides public access to essential information about nearly 90,000 foundations and over 250,000 IRS Forms 990-PF.

GuideStar: National Database of Nonprofit Organizations External Link

Connects people and organizations with information on the programs, finances, and impact of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. The more robust version of this database is GuideStar Premium mentioned above. Link

Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where “all people can lead free and dignified lives”. This site offers social network with searchable job and fellowship opportunities.


This site is part of a large volunteer effort to enhance the free dissemination of Research Papers in Economics or RePEc, which includes bibliographic metadata from over 1,700 participating archives, including all the major publishers and research outlets worldwide.
It includes a large number of papers on the economics and management of nonprofit organizations and many other content types, e.g. journal articles, books, book chapters, etc. Advanced Search External Link is recommended.

MelissaDATA External Link

Search using Nonprofit Organizations Lookup by name, zip code, or tax ID number. Useful to find out what nonprofits are working in a given geographic area of the US. Provides amount of assets and income. Downloadable data also available for purchase.

Nonprofit Administration and Management Commons External Link

Open Access academic journal articles in full-text. A subcategory of the Business Commons External Link which is made available through the Digital Commons Network.External Link

Nonprofit Almanac. Urban Institute External Link

Provides a detailed analysis of nonprofits' place in the national economy and trends in wages, employment, private giving, volunteering, and finances. Purchase chapters you need online or request the print version from the book stacks while in the Science & Business Reading Room at The Library of Congress using the LC catalog record.

Nonprofit Explorer External Link

This resource is provided by ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. It provides over 1.1 million tax returns from tax-exempt organizations and financial details such as their executive compensation and revenue and expenses. You can browse data released (form 990s filed at the IRS) since 2013 and download tax filings as far back as 2001. Includes all nonprofits filing under 501 (c). The 990PF filings (private foundations) come from Link Search by name of organization, city or keyword and limit by state or major topical categories and specific types of nonprofits. Provides financials for fiscal year, total revenue, expenses, net income, source of revenue, assets, liabilities, etc. Tax return forms are in PDF format.

Nonprofit External Link

Search this geographic directory of nonprofit organizations by U.S. city and state. Contains a total of 41,589 non-profit organizations in 2015. You can also Search nonprofits by nameExternal Link.

Small Nonprofit Organizations: A Profile of Form 990-N Filers Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 2010. External Link

"In an effort to keep better track of nonprofit organizations, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 mandated that the more than 714,000 nonprofits with gross receipts less than $25,000 needed to file the new Form 990-N, also known as the e-Postcard. This new form requests basic information such as an organization's address, officer name, and website and is the first data to ever be collected on the smallest nonprofit organizations.
This brief provides an overview of the new 990-N filing requirement, profiles the organizations filing the 990-N, compares 990-N filers to larger filers, and provides a brief look at small nonprofits reporting terminations on Form 990-N."--website.

Last updated: 04/18/2017

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  April 18, 2017
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