Show your EINs

EIN plate 12-3456789


Charity Donors: Join the “Show your EINs” campaign

As a charity donor, you can encourage your favorite charities to help protect you and other donors. Be part of the “Show your EINs” campaign.

We’ve created a short paper insert you can include with your donations, encouraging the charity to prominently show its EIN in its outreach and fundraising materials. Next time you are getting ready to mail a donation, include a copy of the insert. Keep a supply with your checkbook. Go ahead, print it out now — there are four copies per sheet.

Short insert EINs

Our 2012 survey showed that less than 27% of charity fundraising mailings prominently showed the organization’s EIN (survey ended Oct 12, 2012).


FAQ #1: Why should a charity prominently show its EIN?

  • To help donors protect themselves.
  • To help donors get the results they want.
  • To help donors donate to you. Using your EIN is the quick and easy way for a donor with a donor advised fund to find a charity and recommend a grant.
  • To help law enforcement combat “charity” scams.
  • EINs are the key to finding a particular charity.
  • While charity names can be similar, no two charities have the same EIN. EIN checking is more precise than DNA testing.
  • Charity names are often confusingly similar. For example, I entered “american cancer” as the organization name in the GuideStar.org nonprofit search box and got 602 results. I narrowed the name search to “american cancer society” and got 310 results. I entered “habitat for humanity” and got 1,911 results. Entered “veteran” and got 43,414 results! You get the picture. These searches were done in January 2014.
  • Names can be used to mislead. Scam “charities” often adopt names confusingly similar to legitimate charities, siphoning off dollars needed for good works.

FAQ #2: What’s an EIN?

Every charity has its own unique federal employer identification number (EIN), which it obtains by applying to the IRS. An EIN is typically a nine-digit number, shown like 12-3456789. A few charities have EINs with eight or fewer digits (normally shown with a leading zero like 01-2345678).

FAQ #3: Why would a donor care?

  • Using an EIN is the quickest path to successful charity research.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest way to avoid “charity” scams.
  • Using an EIN is a solid way to avoid confusion among legitimate charities.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest way to find a charity in the donor’s donor advised fund.
  • Using an EIN helps in checking for a charity’s current address.
  • Using an EIN helps document charitable deductions at tax time.

FAQ #4: How can a donor use an EIN in charity research?

Just enter the EIN (with or without the hyphen) at CharityCheck101.org, GuideStar.org, the National Center for Charitable Statistics, or even Google — you’ll quickly find available information about the group. The IRS has also added EINs to its EO Select Check online charity search.
EIN license plate

FAQ #5: You’re saying charity EINs are public information?

Yes. Charity EINs are a key part of the public disclosure system mandated by the Internal Revenue Code. They’re available on the IRS website for anyone to find. And they’re the pathway to finding charity information filed with the IRS and available through CharityCheck101.org, GuideStar.org and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. The system’s already in place, let’s use it!

FAQ #6: Could showing charity EINs help “charity” scammers?

No, it will hurt them. If all charity fundraisers show their EINs, “charity” scammers will also have to show EINs. Potential donors will know to look for the EIN, and ask for it when contacted for donations.

FAQ #7: Where should a charity show its EIN?

Show the EIN prominently

  • On every piece of mail sent seeking a donation or other funding.
  • On every donation acknowledgement.
  • On the website’s “About Us” and “Donate” pages, and in the footer of every page.

Remember: No foundation would give a charity a grant unless the charity provided its EIN first.

Why should individual and family donors, who provide more than 80% of charity donations, have to waste time searching for charity EINs?

Have other views or experiences? Use the Leave a Reply / Comments section below.

5 Comments

  1. Mastora Bakhiet
    June 15, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    If the “Charity EINs are a key part of the public disclosure system mandated by the Internal Revenue Code” why did you give my different EIN when I registered. The EIN on the four copies per sheet that you advise me to ” Keep a supply with your checkbook”.( I am confused)

    • Edward Long
      June 15, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

      Mastora – Thanks for your question. Sorry for the confusion.
      I’m guessing you are asking about the “12-3456789” EIN number shown in the Charity EIN license plate image. It’s also included in the short paper insert.
      That’s not an actual charity’s EIN, it’s an example of what a typical 9-digit EIN looks like.
      The idea is, when a donor mails a donation to a charity, the donor includes a copy of the short paper insert with the donation.
      I’m going to change the language on the page a bit to cause less confusion.
      I hope you find this helpful,
      Ed (aka Serious)

  2. Mastora Bakhiet
    June 15, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    Dear Edward Long,
    Thank you so much for your understanding and for taking time to explain the EINs for me.This is my first time with your website, and I found it great. I hope to have you help my organization to achieve our mission.
    Thank you again
    Mastora

  3. bill greene
    December 12, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    I would like to check on the angel/vampire status of covenant house 133523561 can you help?

    • Edward Long
      December 13, 2013 @ 9:43 am

      Bill –
      Did you know that members of the SeriousGivers community can suggest charities for coverage at Charity of the Day?
      When you join the community you could suggest we review covenant house 133523561.
      Ed (aka Serious)