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Research Private Companies & Nonprofits

Researching Private Companies

Locating information about private companies can be difficult because, unlike public companies, they are not required to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which is where a lot of information about public companies comes from.

Strategies for researching private companies:

  • Review the company’s website and monitor their social media channels. How do they brand themselves?
  • Request information using the company's website contact section or links.
  • Try state government websites, like the Secretary of State. Use a search engine with keywords like “Arizona Secretary of State” to locate the website, and then look for tabs or links associated with operating a business in that state.
  • Use industry benchmarks as a proxy. Financial statements may not be available on competitors that are private, but industry benchmark data may give you insight.
  • Use the University Library’s databases to search local and national news and business publications by company name. See Searching Business Publications for specific database suggestions.

Some good databases for researching private companies include:

Searching Business Publications

Searching for information on private companies may require patience and creativity. In many cases, your best source of information may be local news, business journals, and trade publications, as they may be important to the local economy. Some databases that offer such resources include:

List of Top Private Companies

Lists of company rankings, especially private companies, can be useful for gathering information like overall revenue, employees, and product information.

Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) status comprise a significant portion of the economy but do not pay taxes. As with private companies, locating information about them can be difficult. Here a some tips and resources for researching them:

  • The only financial information available is the IRS Form 990, which all nonprofits must make available. Most nonprofits make this available on their website but some may require you to visit in person.
  • For state charities, most must register with the Secretary of State. Use a search engine to search for the state name and “secretary of state”.

We rely more on the local and national news for information about charities and how well they are doing or any trouble they may be in. Use databases like ProQuest News & Newspapers and ABI/INFORM & Dateline for news. Search the organization name and the names of any major donors, directors, or executives.

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Research Tips

Business Filings

Many companies have to file with government agencies to do business. The state agency responsible for registering companies will often have an online search that may provide some information, though it can range from just a name and address to more in depth company business records.

In many states, this is a function of the Secretary of State; it can also fall under revenue/taxation departments or corporation commissions. Depending on the amount of information provided, you can use the limited information available as a jumping off point to search business publications for articles about the company, its affiliates, and executives.

Try searching:

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