Reporting on Nonprofits

Course Overview

Reporting on Nonprofits
Self-Directed Course
This $29.95 course is free thanks to the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Time Estimate:
This course takes about an hour to complete.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

This course is designed to help you do a better job covering nonprofit agencies. Nonprofits are simply businesses -- except their aim is to further causes instead of amassing profits.

You will learn what constitutes a nonprofit and how it gets its tax-exempt status. You will get tips on digging for information -- especially on how to decipher an IRS 990 tax form -- and what to do with that information once you have it.

At the end of the course, five journalists detail the steps they went through to nail great stories on nonprofits. Their success stories should give you the confidence you need to take on any of the 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S.

What Will I Learn:

Upon completing this course, you will know:

  • What constitutes a nonprofit.
  • How nonprofits are categorized.
  • The eight main types reporters cover.
  • All about tax-exempt status.
  • About IRS tax form 990.
  • How to evaluate nonprofits using ratios.
  • From five journalists who wrote important stories on nonprofit groups.
Who should take this course:

This course is for any journalist who wants to do a better job of covering nonprofit agencies. It's also for anyone who wants to know how nonprofits operate.

Course Instructors:

Suzanne Coffman

Suzanne Coffman is director of communications for GuideStar USA, Inc.

Chuck McLean

Chuck is responsible for conducting research for GuideStar and customers interested in nonprofit sector data.

Training Partner:


GuideStar is the leading source of information on nonprofits, with a database of 1.8 million IRS-recognized organizations.

Technical Requirements:

This course requires:

  • You use Firefox or Safari 2.x or higher as your browser.
  • You set your monitor resolution to 1024 x 768 or higher.
  • You use a high-speed connection.