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by Ken Schwencke

On Thursday, we launched a new feature for our Nonprofit Explorer database: The ability to search the full text of nearly 3 million electronically filed nonprofit tax filings sent to the IRS since 2011.

Nonprofit Explorer already lets researchers, reporters and the general public search for tax information from more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, as well as allowing users to search for the names of key employees and directors of organizations.

Now, users of our free database can dig deep and search for text that appears anywhere in a nonprofit’s tax records, as long as those records were filed digitally — which according to the IRS covers about two-thirds of nonprofit tax filings in recent years.

How can this be useful to you? For one, this feature lets you find organizations that gave grants to other nonprofits. Any nonprofit that gives grants to another must list those grants on its tax forms — meaning that you can research a nonprofit’s funding by using our search. A search for “ProPublica,” for example, will bring up dozens of foundations that have given us grants to fund our reporting (as well as a few filings that reference Nonprofit Explorer itself).

Just another example: When private foundations have investments or ownership interest in for-profit companies, they have to list those on their tax filings as well. If you want to research which foundations have investments in a company like ExxonMobil, for example, you can simply search for the company name and check which organizations list it as an investment.

The possibilities are nearly limitless. You can search for the names or addresses of independent contractors that made more than $100,000 from a nonprofit, you can search for addresses, keywords in mission statements or descriptions of accomplishments. You can even use advanced search operators, so for instance you can find any filing that mentions either “The New York Times,” “nytimes” or “nytimes.com” in one search.

The new feature contains every electronically filed Form 990, 990-PF and 990-EZ released by the IRS from 2011 to date. That’s nearly 3 million filings. The search does not include forms filed on paper.

So please, give this search a spin. If you write a story using information from this search, or you come across bugs or problems, drop us a line! We’re excited to see what you all do with this new superpower.

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