Sources of Data

The nonprofit sector currently lacks a single, comprehensive listing of organizations. This is one of the greatest challenges practitioners and researchers face when attempting to increase and improve knowledge about the sector itself. To address this, we have developed a database of Indiana nonprofits using three major types of listings:

  • Institutional listings
  • Community listings
  • Personal Affiliation Survey

Although every effort was made to develop a comprehensive and "clean" database, there are challenges in the construction of a merged database, which may impact the quality of the data.


Due to the research design, the sources of the organizations included in the database vary between the focus communities and the rest of the state. To manage the work involved, we chose to compile information from community listings for only certain areas across the state.

Focus Communities Rest of State
Institutional Listings Institutional Listings
Community Listings Not used
Personal Affiliation Surveys (PAS) Personal Affiliation Surveys (PAS)

Institutional Database Sources

Internal Revenue Service (IRS): (IRS): The IRS listings include all the organizations that are registered with the IRS and use Indiana reporting addresses. The IRS database came from two sources: the 1998 IRS Business Master File and the 1998 & 1999 core IRS listings from the National Center for Charitable Statistics. It was updated for changes as of May 2000, May 2001, Spring 2004, and Spring 2005.

Indiana Secretary of State (ISOS): Contains all organizations incorporated with the Indina Secretary opf State as nonprofit corporations as of May 2001. It was updated for changes as of Spring 2004 and spring 2005.

Phone Book (PB): Listings include all of those churches, mosques, and synagogues located within the state of Indiana that have paid to be listed in the yellow pages of phone directories as of May 2001. It was updated for changes as of Spring 2005.

These three sources produced a combined listing of 54,100 Indiana nonprofits in 2001, once we had removed all duplicates that we could identify.

Community Listings

Sometimes because of their small size, their religious affiliation, or their young age, nonprofit organizations may not appear on any of the three "institutional" lists we consulted. To identify such organizations, formal and informal listings of nonprofits were gathered in the eleven of the twelve participating communities (all except for bloomington. Those organizations that were not already found on an institutional list were added to the database during the summer and fall of 2002 - a total of almost 5,000 nonprofits for the eleven communities.

Examples of local lists include:

  • State publications and websites of local service providers
  • Local government listings of grant recipients
  • Foundation and other funders listings of grant recipients
  • Chamber of Commerce publications and websites of civic organizations/clubs
  • United Way listings of grant recipients
  • Service referral manuals
  • Trade, fraternal, social association publications and websites
  • Newspaper listings
  • Listings of members of local coalitions and networks
  • Local informants

Personal Affiliation Survey

Individuals can be involved with community organizations in many ways: as a member, employee, or volunteer. They may also donate money or other needed goods. Asking community members about the organizations with which they are affiliated in these ways makes it possible to generate a sample of nonprofit organizations. This approach (alias, hyper-network sampling) has been used by past researchers to identify work organizations, congregations and membership associations.

In our study, a statewide sample of 526 adults were contacted through a random digit-dialing telephone survey in May of 2001, conducted by the Survey Research Center. These individuals were asked to identify the names and addresses of nonprofit organizations with which they had been connected in some face-to-face interaction during the previous 12 months as members, volunteers, or employees. We added more than 300 nonprofits identified in this manner, and not already included in our database, to our listing. Some of these additions may be programs of nonprofits already on our listing, but not identifiable as such. For information about the results of this survey, please follow links for the personal affiliation survey under research results.

Searchable Database

Our database is now available in a web-based searchable format through the Indiana Business Research Center - follow links on our Searchable Database page.

*Note: Due to a purchasing agreement, those organizations which were only found on the phone book listings in 2001 will not be included in the searchable database. This is a relatively small percentage of the total number of nonprofits found within the state. These organizations were, however, included in the survey sample which informs our understanding of the Indiana nonprofit sector.