Research Charities

Wise donors do their research before giving to charity. The tools on this page can provide you with important information about charities in Ohio. Together, they help provide a detailed picture of charities’ finances, fundraising, charitable activities, and their compliance with registration obligations and other Ohio laws dealing with nonprofit organizations.

On this page you will find links to:

  • Check whether a charity is in compliance with Ohio’s registration requirements
  • Review a charity’s annual reports to see how it spends your donations
  • See whether the charity employs professional fundraisers and find out what percentage of donations actually goes to charity
  • Get tips for safe giving

This data can be used to make informed decisions about giving to charities. For more advice on donating safely, select the Good Giving Guidelines link.


  • IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search: Users can search various IRS databases to view Form 990s filed by organizations, verify whether an organization has a valid 501(c)(3) or other tax-exempt designation, and search a database of organizations that have had their tax exempt status revoked.
  • The Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS): Provides a number of reports and publications that provide detailed information about charities.
  • GuideStar: Charitable organizations’ IRS Form 990 returns can be viewed on GuideStar. A free registration process is required to access the reports.
  • Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance: Provides reports showing whether charities have met or failed to meet 20 standards that deal with governance and oversight, effectiveness, finances, and solicitations and informational materials.
  • CharityWatch: Private watchdog organization that provides various reports, including ratings of top charities based on the percent of total expenses a charity spent on its programs and the cost for an organization to raise $100.
  • Charity Navigator: Another private watchdog organization that rates charities on two dimensions: financial health and accountability/transparency.


Charitable Law Section
30 E. Broad St., 25th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 800-282-0515
Fax: 614-466-9788