Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not as Anonymous as You Thought

This post from Jim Ulvog reminds us that if the nonprofit knows the name of its donor, they can’t be listed as Anonymous of Schedule B of Form 990.  Schedule B is an attachment to your Form 990 that lists the names of all contributors and the amount they contributed.  Generally the listing is for donations over $5,000 or over 2% of total contributions for certain circumstances.

This can be disconcerting to nonprofits who want to honor a donors request to be anonymous.   However there are a few things a nonprofit can do.   Schedule B is only required to be submitted to the IRS.  It should not be submitted as part of the return copy that goes with your state registration.

Schedule B is not published on Guidestar.   If you provide others with copies of your Form 990 make sure to extract Schedule B.  A practical tip—when you receive a PDF of your Form 990 from your accounting firm extract Schedule B.   Keep the full copy in one location on your network that is only available to the Executive Director or Finance Officer and make sure that the copy that does not include Schedule B is the copy that is available to everyone.  

If a donor approaches you and wishes to make an anonymous contribution, advise them of the need to report their name to the IRS on Schedule B and inform them of the steps you take to keep Schedule B confidential.  You can also let them know that they can make the contribution through a third party so that you would not be aware of their identify and therefore they would truly be anonymous.