National Charities Information Bureau's standards require that a charity make certain materials available on request. These materials may help you in your quest to learn more about an organization. They include:

1. Financial statements that have been audited by an independent accountant, and the IRS Form 990

2. An annual report that includes a list of members of the governing body, with some identifying information; the audited financial statements or comprehensive summary; and a description of the program that is clear and precise and that is easily comparable to the program categories used in the financial statements

3. A statement of functional expenses. This statement, which is often included among the audited financial statements, explains how the charity has distributed costs like rent, postage, salaries, etc., to the "functional" purpose of the expenses, such as one or more program categories, fund--raising, and management/general.

4. Descriptive and financial information for all revenue-generating activities conducted by the charity, such as fees for service, for-profit subsidiaries, and other business ventures. Similar information should be available for income derived from authorized commercial activities involving the organization's name, which are conducted for by for-profit organizations, such as credit cards and other licensing agreements.

5. A budget for the coming year that is easily comparable to the previous year's financial statements