Use Your 990 as a Marketing Tool

The latest view on not-for-profit accounting issues

Once April 15th comes and goes, most Americans no longer are thinking about tax returns. If you’re involved in a not-for-profit, however, you may still be working on getting your informative return done and e-filed.

It’s human nature, especially when you’re busy, to only report what you have to on your 990. However, your 990 is referenced by many future donors by reviewing it on sites like Guidestar or Charity Navigator. Therefore, your 990 is not only a required IRS filing, it’s a potential marketing tool.

Before you file this year, review your mission statement, vision and program descriptions and edit them to become more appealing to potential donors. Using statistics and updating how many people your organization helped during that tax year will show the reader how big of an impact you make in your community and how worthy your organization is of their donation.

I recommend to anyone who will listen to check a not-for-profit’s 990 prior to donating to ensure that organization is what you want to support. On the other hand, I recommend to all of my not-for-profit clients to use their 990 as a marketing tool because more and more donors are checking the 990 than in past years.

Revise your 990 and think “would I donate if I read this?” Having an appealing, heartwarming informative return may bring in more donations for your organization.

By Samantha E. Mahlen, CPA