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Nonprofits mislead about destination of donations

Kelby Hartson Carr of The Times in Munster, Ind., looks into the accuracy of IRS 990 forms filed by nonprofit organizations. After an examination of all 990s filed for "fiscal year 2003 by nonprofit agencies based in Lake County, Porter County and Chicago's south suburbs," the paper found that 70 percent that raised public donations reported no fund-raising expenses. Experts say it is difficult to raise money without spending money and "zero-expense fund-raising claims always should be questioned." The project includes a database of the nonprofits that includes the data from their 990 forms. Other parts of the series look at nonprofit employees who make six figures and have generous benefits packages, the powerful part nonprofits play in the local economy and tips to evaluate a charitiy before donating.

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