Madness to Our Method

The PRI Pulse stands apart from other PRI research projects not only because of its geographic focus on Minnesota private foundations but also because of its uniquely rigorous methodology. To identify past PRI activity, our team individually reviewed over 20,000 IRS Forms 990-PF on GuideStar, representing over 94% of all tax forms for existing Minnesota private foundations from 1998-2015. To our knowledge, this methodology makes The PRI Pulse the most thorough and accurate report on a state’s historical PRI use in existence today. In this section, we explain the five steps of our research process in detail because it adds weight to the findings that follow.

Process Step

  • Step 1: Defined the population of Minnesota private foundations
    Translation:  Defined the haystack
  • Step 2: Identified all of the private foundation tax forms with reported PRIs
    Translation:  Found all of the needles in the haystack
  • Step 3: Created an initial dataset of all reported PRIs
    Translation:  Cataloged all of the needles
  • Step 4: Reviewed and refined the PRI dataset
    Translation:  Reviewed and revised the catalog
  • Step 5: Created a dataset of all Minnesota private foundations in FY 2014
    Translation:  Put the haystack and final catalog in context

About GuideStar

To access Forms 990-PF, we used GuideStar’s extensive database of nonprofit organizations. GuideStar receives these forms both from the IRS and from organizations themselves. The GuideStar database contains more than 5 million Forms 990 and 990-PF, and new forms are available monthly. (Endnote 6)

About Form 990-PF

Form 990-PF is the tax form that all private foundations are required to file annually with the IRS. The information in the form is considered public. Form 990-PF collects a vast array of data from foundations including PRI activity. A blank Form 990-PF can be found online on the IRS website. (Endnote 5)