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What is GreatNonprofits?

GreatNonprofits is the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great -- and perhaps not yet great -- nonprofits and charities.

GreatNonprofits in three minutes

In this era of social media, millions of people already have discovered that a review by someone who has gone to a restaurant or tried out a doctor is a useful way to evaluate the suitability of those services for themselves.

Similarly, if a person has direct experience with a charitable organization, GreatNonprofits makes it easier for him or her to share that knowledge so that other people can discover that group as well.

At GreatNonprofits, we do not write the reviews ourselves. Rather, like at Amazon or at consumer review sites like Epinions, Zagats, or TripAdvisor, the reviews and ratings are posted by people who have been touched by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it. Therefore, on our site you'll discover stories of people who have volunteered or donated to nonprofits, as well as stories of people who have benefited from their services.

Since its founding in 2007, GreatNonprofits has quickly grown into the leading provider of reviews and ratings of nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. Our review methodology takes into account the diversity of the nonprofit sector; thus we host reviews of groups of all different shapes and sizes and types from the smallest grassroots groups operating on the local level, to the large regional, national and international organizations.

Currently, users can rate more than 1.8 million nonprofits directly on our website, or -- via syndication -- on our partner sites, such as JustGive, GuideStar, and GlobalGiving. The reviews on GuideStar, for example, are visible on the individual organizations' profile pages. Users also can write reviews directly on GuideStar or any of our partner sites. All reviews get simultaneously posted to all partner sites.

This represents the largest database of first-person stories about nonprofit organizations ever assembled -- over 170,000 reviews. These are stories submitted by people -- clients, donors, volunteers and others-- who have experienced the impacts of nonprofit work up close. The stories are in digital form that are freely and easily accessible to anyone who wants to read them. This valuable resource helps donors, volunteers, journalists, and concerned citizens to learn about the nonprofit services available in their communities and beyond.

GreatNonprofits is a nonprofit organization itself, which is funded by foundations and individuals who believe that we provide a vital resource for nonprofits, volunteers and donors.

GreatNonprofits has received media coverage in The Economist, The Huffington Post, and Wall Street Journal. GreatNonprofits is led by a seasoned nonprofit executive, Perla Ni, founder and former publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. More about the national board and advisory board can be found here.

If you have other suggestions for us, drop us a line at info(at)greatnonprofits.org. We are eager to hear from you and get your feedback!

Best,
GreatNonprofits Team

The Backstory

Why the Voices of People Directly Served by Nonprofits Matter

When Hurricane Katrina hit, I was the publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (www.ssireview.org), and we started looking into how nonprofits were helping the victims. Even though we had access to far more information than the ordinary donor or volunteer, we found it difficult to find out exactly which nonprofits were doing a good job of helping those in need.

We only started to get a clearer understanding of which nonprofits were actually rising to the challenge when our former managing editor, David Weir, flew out to Biloxi, Miss., and walked up and down the streets, asking people which nonprofits had been out there helping them. The locals told him about several excellent small local nonprofits that provided supplies and help. One survivor suffering from a broken hand and severe emotional stress had been living in his car until volunteers from a nonprofit found him and took him to the doctor. The organization in that case was unknown to the larger world and received little public attention or funding. (David's article was ultimately published in Salon.)

In general, there isn't a lot of media coverage for local nonprofits, and when there is, it's usually to uncover a scandal rather than to highlight nonprofits that are doing excellent work.

I've gotten to know a lot of nonprofits and most of them are honest and hardworking. And some of them do darned great work. I've known nonprofits personally as a client of their services. My family had $100 when we immigrated and countless nonprofits helped us. If you look at photos of me when I was a kid, practically everything I wore came second hand from nonprofits. My cavities got filled for free at a nonprofit community dental clinic.

So I know how much the help of a nonprofit can mean.

It struck me, as I struggled professionally to find great nonprofits for our magazine to write about, that there needed to be an online "Zagat," if you will, for nonprofits that would collect stories and reviews of people -- people like me, the victims of Katrina, and hundreds of thousands of others -- who have seen the impact of nonprofits up close, and can speak personally and firsthand about it. (An article written by Bill Meehan, Brian Trelstad and Stephanie Lowell had presented such an idea a year ago.)

So many donors and volunteers want to know if their giving is going to make a difference. Come help others discover what a difference their involvement in a nonprofit can make.

Sincerely,

Perla

Mission

GreatNonprofits is a place to find trustworthy nonprofits. Our mission is to:

  • Help inspire and inform prospective donors and volunteers, help them differentiate between nonprofits, find ones that they trust, and be more confident in giving or signing up to volunteer.

  • Enable great nonprofits, regardless of the size of their marketing budget, to harness their most authentic and most effective advertising - the stories of the people they've served.

  • Promote greater nonprofit excellence through feedback and transparency.

Past and Current Funders

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
Forbes Funds
Hewlett Foundation
Lodestar Foundation
Morgan Family Foundation
PG&E Corporation
Packard Foundation
Peery Foundation
The Pittsburgh Foundation
SandHill Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
Yahoo Foundation
Generous individual donors

It struck me that there needed to be an online Zagat, if you will, for nonprofits.