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Why It’s a Great Idea To Get a D-U-N-S Number as a Nonprofit

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You’ve got your Employer Identification Number (EIN), your tax exempt number – and your D-U-N-S Number? Wait – what’s that?!

If you’re feeling confused about the difference between these unique identifiers, you aren’t alone! Read on to learn more about the D-U-N-S Number system and why it’s a great idea to grab one of these numbers for your nonprofit.

Six shelves full of colorful binders. The DUNS Number database is global and identifies nonprofits as well as for-profit entities.

What is a D-U-N-S Number? 

A D-U-N-S Number – short for Data Universal Numbering System – is a nine-digit number that identifies businesses worldwide according to a database held and maintained by the Dun & Bradstreet company. 

According to Dun & Bradstreet, the primary advantage of the D-U-N-S Number system is that it serves as the one place where people can go to find true, complete, and accurate information about any participating entity. Because of this, the D-U-N-S Number is used by lenders and others who reference it to assess and categorize the reliability and financial soundness of a company. 

And unlike your EIN and tax exempt numbers, which are assigned and used by the IRS to track your tax obligations within the US, your D-U-N-S Number identifies you outside the country, as well.

In case it seems like a D-U-N-S Number isn’t applicable to you – maybe you only work domestically, for example, and aren’t looking to open a line of credit – consider this: the US federal government awards grants to all kinds of entities, and nonprofits are required to obtain a D-U-N-S Number to apply for and receive federal funding!

Why Should a Nonprofit Have a D-U-N-S Number?

A D-U-N-S Number functions for businesses much the same way a social security number does for individuals within the US. It ties your organization to both your history of physical addresses and your credit history. 

If your organization doesn’t have a history of using lines of credit, you might be surprised to learn that many do go this route. And it’s not a bad idea – getting a D-U-N-S Number and intentionally building good credit can help establish your organization as a good choice for banks and potential for-profit partners. Your organization itself will have a credit profile that isn’t linked to or dependent on the personal credit of its leadership. 

D-U-N-S Numbers are often needed to work with entities outside the country, as well. 

How To Get a D-U-N-S Number for Your Nonprofit

It’s very easy to get a D-U-N-S Number for your nonprofit organization! 

There are two primary options for applying for and receiving your D-U-N-S Number:

  1. Call the dedicated Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S Number request line at 1-866-705-5711, if you’re inside the United States. If you’re outside the US, visit www.dnb.com for more information.
  2. Visit the Dun & Bradstreet website to answer the prompts and apply for your D-U-N-S Number. 

It is always free to apply for and receive a D-U-N-S Number for your nonprofit or business. You also aren’t required to purchase any of Dun & Bradstreet’s products or services in order to do so. Beware of any scams or other offers that ask you to make any kind of purchase or turn over banking information to apply for a D-U-N-S Number.

Whether you call Dun & Bradstreet to receive your D-U-N-S Number or apply through their website, the process should take roughly five to ten minutes. You’ll need to have basic information like the legal name of your organization, your physical and mailing addresses, and a contact name on hand. 

You can expect to receive your D-U-N-S Number in one to two business days.

If you think you might already have a D-U-N-S Number, you can check the existing registry by visiting the Dun & Bradstreet website. 

For more information and additional resources for getting your nonprofit to THRIVE, check out NPO Centric’s membership program! >>