Ironically, finding reliable information is more difficult than ever in the Internet age. Misinformation and disinformation abound. The average person just isn’t equipped to evaluate the veracity of what they hear and read on subjects they don’t know much about.
It’s tempting to take a cynical approach and assume that no one is trustworthy, but that doesn’t work either. There are still reliable sources of information. Lots of them, in fact.
So if and when you need to find accurate content about people, companies, and nonprofit organizations, you have plenty of places to turn. These are eight of the most useful.
CauseIQ is a partially open-source directory of nonprofit organizations and key nonprofit leaders. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for information about small, obscure, or closely held charities that don’t actively solicit donations. This small foundation’s CauseIQ listing, for example, includes important details like cumulative assets, revenues, expenses, and employees, with easy-to-parse trendlines.
2. Bloomberg Business Profiles
Need information about small public companies or private firms of any size? Turn to Bloomberg’s extensive database of business profiles — basically, factsheets and scorecards for hundreds of thousands of anonymous companies integral to the economy. You’ll find details on key people here as well and an overview of their current roles (though it’s best to cross-reference this information on LinkedIn, at minimum).
Crunchbase is a vast “people and companies” database that nominally focuses on the tech space but is increasingly useful for researchers in other industries as well. From huge, well-known B2B firms to obscure foodtech startups, Crunchbase covers it all.
Its listings are information-dense and comprehensive without being overwhelming, as is often the case on less well-moderated platforms. Most follow a standard format that covers high level details like business lines, headquarters, headcount, key employees, fundraising, and revenue (for companies) and current/past roles, specialties, investment activity, and much more (for people).
4. Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator is a user-friendly research tool for people seeking information about nonprofit organizations, mainly in the United States. As a nonprofit itself, it relies on user and corporate donations to fund its operations — a worthy cause for researchers and the firms that employ them if ever there was one.
5. Fundraising Report Card (MarketSmart)
Fundraising Report Card is a paid product that offers more detail on charity fundraising than any other easily accessible resource, public or private. Yes, the cost can be prohibitive for independent researchers, but if your job or business depends on gathering actionable, up-to-date intelligence on nonprofits, it’s a small price to pay.
6. National Center for Charitable Statistics
The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) is an interactive resource (if a bit overwhelming — this is government tech, after all) for those who need specific, granular information about nonprofits. It also produces detailed reports on the nonprofit sector that are quite useful for identifying trends and relationships that aren’t apparent from casual research.
If you’re just getting started as a researcher, get comfortable with Charity Navigator and CauseIQ first before graduating to NCCS, but don’t sleep on it. Soon enough, you’ll have a need for intelligence found only here.
7. Yahoo! Finance
Yahoo! Finance is a “freemium” research platform focusing on publicly traded companies. Basic company information, stock price performance, and recent news are available to all here, so you likely don’t have to upgrade to a paid subscription unless you’re a financial professional.
Chances are you’ve been warned off using Wikipedia as a research tool by at least one well-meaning colleague. And it’s true that Wikipedia isn’t always the most reliable source of information. But thanks to a diligent, dedicated network of super-editors, it’s much more reliable than commonly understood.
Wikipedia is also extremely comprehensive. If you can’t find important details about relatively well-known people or companies elsewhere, you likely can on Wikipedia. A last resort, perhaps, but a useful one nonetheless.
Information Is Out There — If You Know Where to Find It
If you know what you’re looking for and how to find it, you can learn just about anything online these days. But “learning” doesn’t mean “absorbing accurate information.” Anyone who’s spent any amount of time on social media or YouTube or even Google’s search results pages know that quality and trustworthiness vary wildly from source to source.
You need to pick your spots. You need dependable sources of reliable information that you turn to whenever you need to know something.
These eight resources fit that description. They’re not the only ones you can (and maybe should) turn to in your research. But they’re a good start.