The Aspen Institute's Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation (PSI) released an in-depth report, "Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data," exploring how the "liberation" of Form 990 data from "paper-based technologies" could encourage transparency within the nonprofit sector and make useful information more readily available to entrepreneurs, technologists, researchers and advocates. Information unrelated to taxes that is now collected through some versions of the Form 990, such as governance and investments, is often only analyzed and made available under proprietary conditions.
The report says that while information in the 990 is in fact public, making it "available to all, free of charge, in a standard format, published without proprietary conditions, and available online as a bulk download rather than through a single-entry lookup" could not only help spur innovation, but also detect fraud within the nonprofit sector. It proposes that legislation mandating electronic filing be introduced to liberate data as a long-term goal, and that a third-party platform should demonstrate the benefits of open 990 data in the meantime.
For more information, view the full report here.