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NP4090/6090: Program Development, Planning and Evaluation (Vargas)

Steps to Nonprofit Research

Look for Books

Nonprofit organizations have much in common with other kinds of companies, but are unique in many ways.  Look for books that discuss best practices for nonprofit management, grant writing, marketing and more.  See the "Find Books" tab of this guide.

Identify and Profile the Organization

First, you'll want information on the organization and its mission, history and leadership. See the "Internet Resources" tab of this guide for recommended sources of background information on particular nonprofits.

Visit the Organization's Website

Nonprofit organizations often recognize the value of communicating directly with their clients and donors, and their websites can be an excellent source of information about the organization's product or service, performance and vision.  Be sure to evaluate all content on an organization's own website carefully, as the potential for bias does exist.

Find Current News and Articles about the Organization

Articles in the business press are likely to give you insights into a organization's current operations, strategy, performance and opportunities.  Use library databases to find articles from newspapers, magazines and journals that mention your organization.  More generally, you can look for articles that discuss best practices and trends in nonprofit management.  See the "Fiind Articles" tab of this guide.

Examine the Organization's Financial Filings

Nonprofit organizations are usually still required to disclose information about their financials, and many sources are available to help you see where funding comes from and how it is used.  See the "Internet Resources" tab of this guide.

Understand the Context

To fully understand an organization, you will also want to understand the context in which it operates.  You may be able to find information about the industry (e.g., "hospitals," "religious organizations," or "social advocacy organizations") and identify other organizations that offer cooperative or competing services.  You may also want to find demographic information about an organization's potential client or donor base, or find information about the region.  See the "Internet Resources" or the "Non-Profit" tabs of this guide. 

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