The crisis in Haiti has sparked an outpouring of concern and aid pouring in from around the world. With this goodwill comes an opportunity for charities to shine and journalists to make sure that those charities are doing what they promise.

Check up on charitable organizations in your community or educate your readers and viewers to investigate those charities themselves. Form 990s are readily available for download via Guidestar. Charity Navigator can also help as it’s a site that ranks and rates nonprofit organizations.

Here are some tipsheets that can help you unlock a 990’s secrets:

  • Ron Campbell of the Orange County Register dissects a nonprofit and tells you what you can expect line-by-line in “Digging into nonprofits.”

Check out an investigation into Wyclef Jean’s foundation by Stephen Stock of CBS4 Miami. Find examples of other investigations into charities here.