Looking forward to the future of journalism

How to find and analyze tax records of charities: The IRS 990 form explained

Texas Highway Patrol Museum

The Texas Highway Patrol Museum was a weird place. It used to sit on a busy street corner near downtown San Antonio. Yet whenever I drove by, I hardly ever saw anyone inside. More than once I wondered, what’s the deal? I found the answers in the IRS Form 990 — the publicly available tax … Read more

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Offices of the Deputy Sheriff's Association of Bexar County

If you live in Bexar County, someone claiming to be with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County might have called you recently, asking for money. The caller probably promised that every penny of your donation stays in Bexar County. You were probably told that it all goes to a worthy cause. Like most sales … Read more

Facing lawsuit, board of Texas Highway Patrol Museum gives up $1.2 million in assets

Sued by the Texas Attorney General and accused of squandering donations, the Texas Highway Patrol Museum in King William is a step closer to its demise. Check out our past news coverage of the museum, which is actually a telemarketing operation that spends only a fraction of its revenue on charitable causes.

‘A need to investigate the bastards’

Columbia Journalism review posted an interesting feature story about nonprofit investigative news organizations, and how they take different approaches to funding and sharing their content. The CJR story opens with a telling anecdote about a meeting at California Watch. At the meeting, the editors agree that one of their reporters, after months of digging, has … Read more

Texas Tribune receives big grant, but Slate claims nonprofit journalism is flawed

There’s more news, interviews and criticism this week about the Texas Tribune, an ambitious nonprofit news site led by former Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith and venture capitalist John Thornton: The Tribune announced today that it received a $750,000 grant from the Houston Endowment and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Mallary Jean … Read more

Homeland insecurity: How federal grants are being misspent

Two years ago, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, my colleagues Karisa King and Scott Stroud wrote a story that went beyond the platitudes of politicians and pundits. Karisa and Scott checked to see if Texas was actually safer after receiving more than a billion dollars in Homeland Security grant money: … Read more

Open records: Financials of Texas charities

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is unveiling a new Web site where you can soon look up the “990” tax forms of nonprofit organizations in Texas. The 990 is a good starting point when you want to know more about a tax-exempt charity and what it does with its money. You can find out how … Read more