Tips for Reporting Nonprofit’s Accomplishments on Form 990s



It’s a very common situation that nonprofits fail to properly report their yearly achievements on the annual tax returns they file with the IRS. Form 990-EZ and Form 990 ask for the organization’s mission and accomplishments.

 A simple way of writing your nonprofit’s achievement is to follow the SMART rule, precisely:




S – specific. Be as specific as possible. The accomplishments should be clear and concise; avoid long sentences which are not clear;


M – measurable. The nonprofit should provide some measurable information, based on the activities, such as: number of needy families served; number of kids who participated in the Program; number of days of the Program; number of organized workshops/sessions, etc.


A – attainable. The organization’s accomplishments should be feasible.


R – relevant. The accomplishments should be relevant to the organization’s mission and at the same time realistic considering the organization’s expenses for the reported year.


T – timely. The accomplishments should be result-oriented and timely for the reported year only. Do not include previous years’ accomplishments.




Now, let’s try to apply the SMART rule and come up with the accomplishments of a nonprofit providing counseling for at-risk youth services. The accomplishments might be as follows:



S – specific – The organization brought positive impact on the kids’ lives, residing in Fulton County, Georgia by launching “Keep on Learning” Program;

M – measurable – Approximately 75 at-risk youth participated in the Program; over 200 counseling sessions; both one-on-one and group sessions;

A – attainable -  89% of the at-risk kids improved their academic success at school

R – relevant – the accomplishments are relevant to the organization’s mission to provide counseling services to at-risk youth.

T – timely. The accomplishments are for the reported year; no information on previous years’ counseling sessions included.

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