Are 501(c)(3) public charities required to send a major donor a copy of their independent auditor's certified financial statement for transparency & accountability?
Section 501(c)(3) public charities are required to provide a copy of their annual Form 990 tax information return to anyone who requests it. The Internal Revenue Service does not require charities to obtain or disclose a certified financial statement. Many of the 39 states and the District of Columbia that require a charity to register before soliciting contributions from residents of the state require a certified financial statement as part of the annual registration package if the charity raises more than a certain amount of contributions. These statements are then publicly available, so if you are filing them publicly there seems to be no reason not to provide a copy to those who ask.
Some groups are so eager to be transparent that they include a copy of both the Form 990 and the certified financial statement on their website. Others guard the financial statements like they are trade secrets to be protected at all costs. You are not “required” to give a financial statement to anyone (except to the regulators whose state laws require it), but failing to give it to those who have a reasonable reason to see it can suggest that you have something to hide.
Do you? Do you want to appear as though you do?