ExpressTaxExempt Blog

Not Ready for Form 990? Here’s What You Do

Alright, exempt and nonprofit organizations — it’s that time of year!

We’re only a few weeks away from the deadline to file your tax exempt information return as a 501(c)(3) organization!

That’s right, your deadline is May 16th! Not ready yet? Here’s what you need to do.

E-file with ExpressTaxExempt

The most important thing you can do is to take a deep breath! While the idea of taxes can be daunting to many, you don’t have to suffer through it this year.

Why is that? Well, because you’re e-filing with ExpressTaxExempt.

With ExpressTaxExempt, you are not only e-filing with the premier tax exempt filing service out there, you’re saving time that can be dedicated to whatever cause you champion.

Plus, we make e-filing your taxes as easy as turning on a computer, logging into the website, and answering the interview style prompts.

File Form 8868 for More Time

Still not ready? Don’t freak out! Just e-file Form 8868 and receive an automatic 3-month extension of time to file your tax exempt tax returns.

If you need more time to file your Form 990 returns, just know that the deadline is also the same, May 16th!

And just in case you need more time after the first 3 months, you can e-file for another 3 months after that. These will be non-automatic, though, so there needs to be a legitimate reason.

Ready for Form 990? Here's What You Do Instead!

Alright, for the few of you out there who have already finished e-filing (or you run on a fiscal year different than the calendar year), what should you do?

Maybe it’s time to plan and implement a fundraiser. PTA groups can start now to coincide with the end of the school year!

With all the free time, you can start an email, social media, or video marketing plan.

And if you have all your bases covered, maybe you can plan a personal vacation! The possibilities are endless.

So sign up for ExpressTaxExempt today and start your 990 return now! I mean, that way you have all your bases covered come May 16th.

If you have any questions, our team of e-filing experts can help! Give us a call at 704.839.2321 or an email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

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Nonprofit Showcase: Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” are words we all recognize, scrawled across the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island.

This search for freedom is something we consider inherently American, and one of the main reasons refugees seek the security of our nation.

As a reaction, resettlement agencies work to help those in need find their way to the land of the free.

One of these being the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA), a 501(c)(3) organization that works as a part of the United States’ Refugee Resettlement Program.

The Mission

The CRRA believes that all refugees and asylum seekers deserve a chance to create successful, new lives in the USA.

Their mission is to welcome new arrivals and make them contributing and successful members of American society by:

  • “Providing resettlement services to refugees and asylees who are escaping violence, persecution, and repression, without regard to their race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
  • Connecting refugees and asylees to other service agencies in the Charlotte area.”


Started in 1996, the CRRA is an affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Together, they’ve settled more than 3,000 refugees from 40 countries into the Charlotte metro area.

Recently, CRRA has resettled over 300 people from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia.

The goal of CRRA is to embrace Charlotte bound refugees, easing their transition from their troubled past to life in America.

No matter what nationality or religion, CRRA is here to help!

How They Help

Before a refugee sets foot in Charlotte, CRRA will furnish an apartment and stock it with food so that they have a safe place to call home.

After new arrivals reach Charlotte, CRRA picks them up from the airport and brings them to their new living space.

New arrivals receive help with tasks like obtaining social security cards, registering their children for school, and attending classes for English as a Second Language. The employment counselors will also match people with jobs they qualify for, so that they can provide for their family.

With additional grants and donations, CRRA is able to provide even more for clients as they settle into their new lives.

No matter what your nonprofit organization does, ExpressTaxExempt will always be here for your Form 990 filing needs. If you’re on a calendar year, your deadline is May 16th, 2016!

We’re thankful for the work Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency does to help new Americans seeking safety!

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Is Your Nonprofit at Risk? Don't Miss the Warning Signs!

It’s about that time—the time when tax-exempt organizations scramble to find an accountant who will file their Form 990 returns before it’s too late.

But what are the mistakes you’ve made with your nonprofit? Are you ready for the deadline day? Is your nonprofit at risk?

You Haven't Filed Form 990 in Years

The IRS is pretty clear about this—if you haven’t filed in a while, you might be in danger.

The IRS has an automatic revocation for non-filing for three consecutive years.

According to the IRS, if an organization fails to file their annual return as required for three consecutive years, its tax exempt status is automatically revoked after the due date for filing its third annual return.

When an organization loses their tax-exempt status, they may need to file income tax returns and pay income tax, but they will also get the chance to apply for reinstatement of exemption status.

You Don't Know What You're Doing

Of course, filing your 990 forms can be confusing. Instead of getting stuck in the mire, we’re going to break down the basics real quick.

  • Form 990-N (the e-Postcard): You may only file an e-Postcard if you have an organization that makes $50,000 or less a year in gross receipts. 
  • Form 990-EZ: You can use this form if your gross receipts are less than $200,000 or total assets are less than $500,000.
  • Form 990 (long): Form 990 must be filed by an organization if it has either gross receipts greater than or equal to $200,000 or total assets greater than or equal to $500,000 at the end of the tax year.
  • Calendar Tax Year: If your nonprofit organization’s tax period is listed from January 1 to December 31.
  • Fiscal Tax Year: If your nonprofit organization’s tax period begins or ends any date other than January 1 or December 31, like April 1 to March 31, for example. 

You Didn't Know You Can Get More Time

But your tax exempt organization doesn’t have to hit deadline season in a panic!

With Form 8868, you can request an automatic 3-month extension of time to file for your organization.

You can also e-file Form 8868 to apply for an another (non-automatic) 3-month extension to file if the original extension was not enough time.

While the first extension is automatic, the organization must show reasonable cause for the additional time requested in order to get the non-automatic extension.

Don’t worry, though. These mistakes are easy to fix with ExpressTaxExempt.

Need to file Form 990-N? We offer the e-Postcard FREE for the current year! E-filing the 990-EZ and the 990 Long is just as easy with our interview-style, cloud-based software.

And if you’re not ready to file, e-file for an extension or check out the 8868 App!

So ask yourself—is your nonprofit at risk?

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Are You Making These 5 Crowdfunding Mistakes?

Back in the day, fundraising was usually a face-to-face, spoken word kind of venture. But in the digital age, things have changed.

In order to maintain competitive fundraising, you need to look towards the Internet! But with great crowdfunding comes great responsibility.

I mean, there are certain rules, drawbacks, and benefits to Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe. But no matter what, there are mistakes you can make on every crowdfunding site.

Your Campaign Is Not Clearly Defined

Don’t use a crowdfunding campaign for general fundraising.

Instead, focus your crowdfunding to a specific project, and how it will inspire donors to be a part of it.

Also, a specific project will have a smaller goal ($10k is a lot more palatable than $100k).

You Have No Mass-Market Appeal

Be realistic. You’re a big supporter of your cause, but the Average Joe isn’t.

If you do your market research, you can find the broadest appeal for your project. Research allows you to target your fundraising efforts.

You Have No Dedicated Resources

After you research, you need to make sure you have the capabilities to manage a big campaign.

If you don’t have a dedicated marketing professional on your team, you need to split the duties of a marketer between your current staff.

Also, you need to spend a little to earn a little in most situations, so make sure you have a budget that accounts for marketing.

You Don't Have a Plan

With proper resources, a real plan comes together.

Every plan has a before, a during, and an after. Start by setting goals you plan to meet, metrics you will measure with, and a time frame for all of this to occur.

With prepared content and continuous outreach, you can build relationships with your new donors even after your campaign ends.

You Have No Existing Donor Network

In order for your campaign to succeed, you need a relationship with your existing donors. First of all, they’re passionate about your cause.

Second, they have friends and family to share your project with. New donors are more likely to give if their loved ones have vetted the cause already.

Once you have your crowdfunding road-map in order, you can implement your plan!

With a solid crowdfunding campaign, your project is sure to be successful.

And it’s never too early to start planning your tax exempt return—once all these donations roll in, use the awesome recordkeeping features of ExpressTaxExempt to import donations. If you have any issues e-filing your 990 form, contact our support team at 704.839.2321.

Are you making these crowdfunding mistakes?

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Nonprofit Marketing with Podcasts

Innovation is the key to a successful marketing strategy for your nonprofit. You’re here to help your community, but you also need to stay competitive.

We’ve talked to you about creating video for your exempt organization, but what about audio?

No, we’re not talking radio over here.

It’s surprisingly easy to create a podcast these days, but it can sound intimidating. Here are some steps to follow to create your own.

Create a Concept

First of all, what is your podcast going to be about? That’s a big question, but it is where you need to start.

Is it based around your mission? Maybe it is about your volunteers or the people you are trying to help?

Or perhaps you’d rather go broad and talk about the industry itself. That is fine!

This also makes you think, who is your audience? Is it for your donors, your volunteers, or other people in the exempt industry?

Finally, decide your release schedule during this planning phase, because it’ll help you plan how often you need to create your content. Plus, it’ll be easier to schedule guests, promotions, and extra things geared towards your listening audience.

Get in Production

How long will an episode be? Some podcasts run with 15 minutes or less, and there are some that succeed at a longer format (45 minutes and up). It depends on what you have to say, so keep that in consideration!

How often will you release episodes? Create a production plan in advance that is based around your episode length and schedule.

If you’re recording a short form series about fundraising, you could write and record all of your episodes at once.

But if you want to make a longer form series that interviews vital players in the nonprofit world, you will have to plan your schedule around those interviews. It takes more time, but in this field we know that anything worth doing takes time!

How do you record the actual show?

Well, you can record with something as simple as your computer microphone, or you can grab a professional microphone and mixer if you have the budget. Then you can edit with a free program, like Audacity. If you’re a Mac user, your computer comes installed with Garageband, which also works.

Once you get your episode perfect, it’s time for distribution.

Distribute It

After you record, you need to get your podcast out there. With the social media pages, email, and website you’ve already set up, you have an instant platform to push the podcast on.

Then you simply need to submit it to all the major distribution services out there—iTunes, Stitcher, etc.

There’s a lively podcasting community out there, and you can make a name for your nonprofit in the field. Consider it!

Just a reminder, if you run on a calendar year, there’s a Form 990 deadline coming up in May! The expert customer service team is ready to help you if you have any e-filing questions. Give them a call at 704.839.2321.

Are you ready to start podcasting?

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Boost Online Donor Retention

How do you boost online donor retention? It’s a big question. Currently, 40.5% of nonprofits surveyed said that less than 10% of their fundraising came from online donations.

So we know there’s quite a swath of exempt organizations out there who aren’t utilizing online donations.

But for those who are, how do you make sure you are following best practices? How do you retain those awesome, web-savvy donors?


When it comes to communicating with your online donors, you are pretty much tied to both email and social media.

Before you get to those steps, you should probably have a solid online presence. Start by creating a website and a blog! Your blog can range from personal stories about your nonprofit to tips and tricks. Anything goes, as long as you communicate organization updates too!

After that, you simply need to design an email campaign. Let this take form as newsletters, donation emails, or even deals.

Your social media presence is crucial now. With online donation movements like #GivingTuesday, there are just too many opportunities out there. Get social now! It’s low hanging fruit.

There are some special skills you can tap into for your nonprofit marketing, including using video to boost donations.

Every communication channel you open is there for you to retain a relationship with your donors. That should be your top goal.


The most important thing you can do for your retention is to thank your donors. By showing appreciation, your people will feel a swell of gratification that will ask them to keep on.

And don’t just issue blanket thank yous, personalize them to your givers! If you have a database of names and email addresses, this could be easily automated within an email service.

Use your communication channels to feature the philanthropic work people have done for and with your organization.


Donors aren’t ATMs, they’re people. Don’t bombard them with constant requests for money.

Your best strategy will be to get their voices involved, so that you can establish a connection.

So we suggest using your social media to really spark up discourse. Polls, open ended questions, and contests will involve your followers in a way that gives you insights about them.

And form an emotional connection! If your exempt organization cares deeply, show it. If there’s a funny and comical way to get your message across that matches your tone, do it!

With the exempt organization tax filing deadline soon approaching, it’s a good idea to get those donor records in order.

Head over to ExpressTaxExempt and start your free account today! With multi-user account access, bulk data uploading, and a simplified format, ETE is the premier choice for nonprofit 990 filing.

Have any questions? Give us a call at 704.839.2321.

What are you doing to boost online donor retention?

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Why Do People Volunteer? Here Are 6 Reasons

Why do people volunteer?

That’s a big question. There are plenty of reasons why, honestly.

As a volunteer, you may identify with these yourself.

As an exempt organization, once you understand your volunteers’ motivations, you can tap into these reasons to better your recruitment!

So what are the reasons people volunteer? Here are just a few!

Personal Tie to the Cause

Basically, if a cause is important to someone, they might volunteer.

Maybe they are a cancer survivor, or are related to one. Maybe they grew up impoverished and want to help kids with disadvantages succeed in school.

Regardless, they want to help. And with this personal tie comes a passion you can’t fake.

For Resume Building

Whether you’re an entry level college grad or a seasoned worker, volunteering helps that resume.

These volunteers may seem dedicated for the “wrong reason” to some, but in the volunteer business you want to accept any helping hand.

And resume building is a legitimate act that leads many to help!

For Leadership

Beyond resume building is leadership training. While this may be a team building exercise, it might also be an entrepreneur looking to use their leadership skill set to do good.

Not only that, some people will learn valuable leadership skills FROM volunteering.

And if you want to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. And helping a nonprofit in any way is definitely walking the walk.

To Meet People

Sure, it might sound like a strange method for making new friends, but you are likely to find people with similar interests as you if you pick a cause you care about.

And you might be meeting a future collaborator, or your next best friend. Either way, all the more reason to volunteer!

It Feels Good "Doing Good"

Sometimes, it just feels good to do good. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

One of your volunteers might get involved with your exempt organization because they want to feel good. And you should let them know they’re doing good!

Sometimes, the Doing Good crowd will be involved in the smaller gestures, like donating canned food or pledging a dollar as an add-on. But even with small gestures, the do good crowd helps out!

And while some out there cringe at the idea of helping just because you’re “doing good,” it is really the key concept to philanthropy. So we’re not gonna knock it.

Increase Your Self Awareness

And finally, when you put yourself in the role of volunteer, you are able to see things the average person doesn’t. And you increase your self awareness and your understanding of the world.

That has to be reason enough to volunteer, if you ask us.

After you bring in new recruits and key donations, make use of our bulk uploading and multi-user accounts at ExpressTaxExempt. And if you have any questions building up to the May 15th deadline, reach us by phone at 704.839.2321 or by email at Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

What motivates your volunteers?

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Welcome to Volunteer Appreciation Month

Did you know that about 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once between September 2014 and September 2015?

Did you also know that April is Volunteer Appreciation Month?

Good job, volunteers! Keep up the good work. And good job to our dedicated nonprofit and exempt organizations who reach out and organize their volunteers!

While volunteering differs depending on the organization, we offer our appreciation to all of you out there who have taken your time and money to better our world!

How Can You as an Exempt Organization Show Your Appreciation?

Well, communicate with your volunteer base! Send out an email or a social media message that conveys your appreciation.

If you’re already following our guide to email marketing, this should be easy for you.

Reach out to a Local Company as a Partner

Let’s be honest, there are many benefits for businesses when it comes to volunteering. They can market their products and services through events and increase their appeal to the community by helping out.

For Volunteer Month, team up with a local company that could offer your volunteer base some cool perks. This could range from free swag to discounts, depending on what the local business does.

Everyone Loves a Good Meal

It turns out collecting, preparing, distributing, and serving food were the activities volunteers performed the most in 2015. Around 11 percent of volunteers reported this as their main activity, with teaching, fundraising, and general labor following, respectively.

Show your volunteers you appreciate their efforts by throwing them an appreciation banquet, cookout, or even a pizza party!

On top of everything, these events are the perfect opportunity to reconnect with and learn more about your volunteers.

What Makes Volunteers Tick?

Appreciative emails and cookouts aside, April gives you the perfect chance to learn more about your volunteer base.

How? By surveying your base, you can find out why they volunteer, what works as a call to action, and how you can make the process easier for them.

Some people would rather donate canned goods or funds, and some would rather use their time doing hands-on activities to better the organization. Do you know which volunteers are which? This is the time for you to find out!

Of course, we would like to extend our appreciation to both volunteers and nonprofits out there! Without your dedication and philanthropy, the world would be a darker place.

Don’t forget, if you’re an exempt organization running on a calendar year, you have a deadline for your tax return on May 15th. Whether you’re e-filing Form 990-N or the 990 long, we’re here to answer any questions you may come across. Just reach out to us at 704.839.2321 or Support@ExpressTaxExempt.com.

How are you going to appreciate your volunteers this month? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers related to e-filing IRS Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-PF, 990-N (e-Postcard), Form 1120-POL and Extension Form 8868 with our Frequently Asked Questions.

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