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GuideStar

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: GuideStar seeks to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving. Progress in American philanthropy and nonprofit practice is constrained by the absence of extensive information about the practices of nonprofit organizations. Before GuideStar, donors lacked the information to initiate their philanthropy and follow the progress of organizations to which they give; nonprofits and their boards had no means to study and/or compare their own operating practices and results with those of similar organizations; and nonprofits, government agencies, and grants administrators suffered from the requirements of burdensome and duplicative reporting systems. By securing the collaboration of all of these audiences, GuideStar is now building the common, open information infrastructure required to eliminate these inefficiencies and ensure a more effective allocation of society's resources.

Target demographics: Anyone that wants information about charities.

Geographic areas served: All

Programs: Enabling Better Decisions:Through our free website, data services, and software products, GuideStar offers tools to help individuals and organizations make better, more confident decisions. Our free website, data services, and software products ultimately increase the impact of all philanthropy. In 2014, 350,000 easily searchable, digitized nonprofit records were added to the GuideStar database, increasing the total number to more than 4.5 million. The vast majority (99.9%) of GuideStar users leverage GuideStar data and tools at no charge, thanks to generous support received through grants, foundations, membership, sales, and donations. GuideStar allows users to be more informed donors, giving them access to more than just IRS Form 990 data.

Advancing Transparency: GuideStar believes that the more people understand about the philanthropic sector, the more effectively and efficiently it will operate and the more support it will receive. GuideStar creates value by using advanced information technology to make more information about nonprofits available to the public, donors, foundations, nonprofits, government agencies, and service providers. In 2014, GuideStar enabled users of www.GuideStar.org to obtain some level of information on more than 2.4 million tax-exempt organizations, including 8.6 million 990 images. GuideStar also increased the reach of our platform for updating Nonprofit Profiles, enabling nonprofits to share their organization’s full and most up-to-date story. From 2008 through September 2015, more than 115,000 nonprofits have provided information about their programs, finances, and impact in their GuideStar Nonprofit Profile. More than 45,000 nonprofits have updated information within the most recent two years.

encouraging charitable giving: the philanthropic sector relies on public interest in philanthropy and public trust in nonprofit organizations to encourage charitable giving. Guidestar builds public trust through its on-line distribution of data on the exempt and legal status, financial data, compensation practices and impact of nonprofits, and through information provided by nonprofit managers. This information is also made available to a vast network of other organizations, including community foundations (through the donoredge platform) working in the sector.

Encouraging Charitable Giving: The philanthropic sector relies on public interest and trust in nonprofit organizations to encourage charitable giving. GuideStar builds public trust through the nonprofit information it provides online. Information includes exempt and legal statuses, finances, and compensation practices of nonprofits pulled from the publicly available IRS Forms 990 and from more updated, in-depth information provided directly to GuideStar by nonprofit managers. Through these profiles, nonprofits have increased access to donations; more than 20,000 nonprofits have chosen to collect donations through GuideStar.org. GuideStar supports community foundations in their fundraising efforts through its DonorEdge platform. In 2015 there were 18 community foundation members using this service. GuideStar is also developing new tools to ensure that nonprofit information is available to donors wherever and whenever they need it. This is facilitated by the development and launch of several Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) in 2014. These APIs share GuideStar’s nonprofit information across the digital world. Our distribution partners – including VolunteerMatch, AmazonSmile, and the donor advised funds of Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard – are using GuideStar APIs to ensure donors have the most up-to-date, complete information about nonprofits.

Community Stories

45 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jesus Gonzalez

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

If you do nothing else, register with GuideStar. Then, work towards a platinum rating. It's an easy way to measure where you are and where you want to be. It seems everyone is using GuideStar these days to make funding decisions. Even at a the first level (Bronze), you are way ahead of the pack.

Board Member

Rating: 5

GuideStar is a great resource for both nonprofits sharing information and donors researching organizations. The GuideStar platform is easy to use and allows us to create open transparency of our organization. This transparency enables donors to make better decisions. Many of our donors have mentioned that GuideStar was the first place they looked to review our programs. We thank GuideStar for the opportunity to present our nonprofit, Kids Against Hunger with a mission of fighting hunger around the world and in the United States, to everyone with a heart to feed children.

Darian H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

GuideStar is a great resource for nonprofits and donors alike. I've worked with them on several books and conferences, all designed to build nonprofit capacity, and find their team both professional and committed to growing the field. They produce a great newsletter, a ton of free webinars, and provide their support to as many fundraising and other strategic resources as any other group out there!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Just when I get used to using the site, they change it. How can they not have a mobile application, considering that they've been "working on it" for so many years? WORST NONPROFIT EVER! Guidestar contributes NOTHING to society.

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Hi Janie, Thanks for your feedback. While we don't yet have a mobile app, we have just re-designed our GuideStar Search on guidestar.org for increased mobile functionality. You can learn more and watch a video about it here: https://trust.guidestar.org/a-better-way-to-explore-the-nonprofit-sector To learn about the progress and results our organization is making toward achieving our mission of enabling better decisions, advancing transparency, and encouraging charitable giving, check out the Progress & Results section of our Platinum Nonprofit Profile: http://www.guidestar.org/profile/54-1774039 If you have any further questions or concerns or would like to connect to a GuideStar support specialist, I encourage you to join the conversation in The GuideStar Community: https://community.guidestar.org/ Best, Courtney Cherico Content Marketing Associate GuideStar

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 2

I am giving GuideStar a mixed review because I use GuideStar as a researcher and as a nonprofit "administrator" responsible for keeping my organization's profile up to date. As a nonprofit "administrator" the support center is terrible. I have tried multiple ways to formulate my question and haven't found one even remotely helpful answer. You put out a public profile without permission or notice. There are multiple gaps because no one knew to go look at it, and now you make it virtually impossible for me to fill those gaps because we are an all-volunteer organization with no related email to verify my ability to update our record. Because of this, our nonprofit looks as though it hasn't had any income for the last four years. GuideStar is HURTING our reputation and ability to secure funds because of barriers GuideStar has put in place.

I would like to actually speak to someone, but there is not a phone number to be found. I wonder how a donor would contact the organization if they had a question

Finally, GreatNonprofits requires me to register as an individual or a nonprofit. In this case I am both. I am responding as someone who wants to update my nonprofit's profile, but also as a person who uses GuideStar as a research tool. Fortunately I am smart enough and have an understanding of GuideStar's limitation. Only 5% of the nonprofits listed have actually added even the smallest piece of information to their profile page.

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Hi NFPPro, Thanks for your feedback. Since our launch of The GuideStar Community earlier this year, we've purposed to make the site user-friendly and more easily searchable. Feel free to enter questions by keyword in the search bar to see conversations that are already happening about your issues, or click "submit a request" to have a stakeholder support specialist contact you in about a business day: https://community.guidestar.org/ We have a Profiles Coach that is happy to reach out to you individually and walk you through the process of updating your Nonprofit Profile-- please leave a comment on this blog post requesting a profiles coach: https://trust.guidestar.org/the-nonprofit-summer-games-closing-ceremonies . From there, I'll be able to see your email address and connect you directly to her. Alternatley, you can "request support" in the GuideStar Community asking the same thing and someone will connect you. Best, Courtney Cherico, content marketin gassociate, GuideStar

Review from Guidestar

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Guidestar's new Website makes it even easier for bad charities to make themselves look good. What people will read on Guidestar is the charity's own marketing material about all the wonderful things they do. This will let even the worse charities make themselves look good.

Saying "goodbye" to admin overhead is a blank check for many charities to continue excessive fundraising expenses, overhead, and egregious executive salaries. The 990's will make little sense to anyone other than seasoned accountants or the most savvy financial readers.

It appears Guidestar is nothing more than a vehicle to enable clever charities to promote themselves. #shameful

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Thanks for your feedback. I think questions 4 & 5 of The Overhead Myth FAQ can provide some guidance regarding your concerns: http://overheadmyth.com/faqs/#q4 GuideStar urges nonprofits and their supporters to push past financial metrics to share their actual progress and results with millions, for free, with GuideStar Platinum: https://learn.guidestar.org/platinum If you have concerns over the validity of information in our profiles, I encourage you to join the conversation surrounding that topic in The GuideStar Community: https://community.guidestar.org/message/5129 Best, Courtney Cherico, content Marketing Associate, GuideStar

3 Connie73

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Founder/CEO of Pathways For Change, Inc. I bring clinical strengths to our organization, but I've had to rely on mentors and organizations like GuideStar to learn how to implement compliant nonprofit strategies. GuideStar has allowed me, at my own pace, to explore best practices and implement those practices throughout every aspect of our organization. I highly recommend a Gold Star rating experience!

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Gratefu for your kind feedback, Connie! ~Courtney Cherico, content marketing associate, GuideStar

Review from Guidestar

4 Debbie183

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Thank you Guidestar for providing the platform to share the details of our hard-working organization. Founded in the 1990’s, our message of training in the absence of violence has grown in importance with the news headlines. Our presence on Guidestar is often mentioned as the first place potential donors looked after they heard about our programs. When Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II became our patron to encourage our Horse Sense and Healing program, we knew we were in the ultimate fishbowl. Guidestar was there for us, even internationally, to assure and guide the public. Thank you!
Warm regards,
Debbie Loucks
Director of Development www.Join-Up.org/veterans

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

We appreciate your review, Debbie! ~Courtney Cherico, content marketing associate, GuideStar

Review from Guidestar

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

A great tool for nonprofits to share the good work and impact they have on their community. I work for a nonprofit and refer all friends and family to check Great Nonprofits before making a donation to any organization.

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Thanks for your review! ~Courtney Cherico, content marketing associate, GuideStar

4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

If I could give them zero stars, I would. They have the WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE imaginable. If you are a nonprofit looking for help, expect to wait at least a week for each correspondence. Write them an email, wait a week for a response that doesn't even match your request. Write another email, wait another week. Maybe I'm missing the point of GuideStar, but I thought their mission is to help the nonprofit sector. Worse than that, you can't call them and if you request that they call you, you're just out of luck. If you're lucky enough to get a phone call, you'd better be at your desk the moment they decide to call you (about a week later) or you'll receive a voicemail telling you to email them. How can a multi-million dollar nonprofit brag about being the "leader" in anything if their customer service is so terrible?

Comments ( 1 )

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courtney115 08/26/2016

Thanks for your feedback. As a nonprofit ourselves, we strive to support the sector with the capacity we do have which is currently via email and The GuideStar Community, where you can request help from a stakeholder support specialist to your personal inquiry with an average of a day response time: community.guidestar.org. BEst, Courtney Cherico, content marketing associate, GuideStar

Review from Guidestar

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

I first started using Guidestar nearly 5 years ago to provide some very basic updates to our organizational profile. We started taking Guidestar seriously, when the donor walked through the door and asked to update all sections of our organizational profile and solicit at least 5 reviews through Great Non Profits in order to complete for the grant. Many of my colleagues view Guidestar as a watchdog of the nonprofit industry. To me, it is first and foremost an incredible source for the research. I’m often using Guidestar for benchmarking and learning about specific organizations in the nonprofit world. This year, I was honored to be invited to participate on the Guidestar User Advisory Panel, and I’m looking forward to providing feedback on their new initiatives while learning more about this fascinating organization.

Review from Guidestar

3 Leslie26

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been using guidestar for years in my grant writing and updating our nonprofits profile for our donors to have access to our information. The site has improved tremendously over the years and in the last couple of years I've had the pleasure of being able to provide feedback on their ideas and new products.
I am really excited about Guidestar and their willingness and ability to stay current in regard to technology and in trying to understand and accommodate the needs of its client base. They seem to take this responsibility personally which tells me it will only get better from here.
Congratulations Guidestar team for a job well done!

Review from Guidestar

3

Advisor

Rating: 5

Overall, GuideStar is a very valuable service - both for non-profit staff and members of the public who use the site to conduct due-diligence.

In terms of being a member of the advisory panel, I have enjoyed the opportunity to provide feedback and believe that such a panel would be useful to many other organizations. I would welcome the opportunity to have additional volunteer options within the GuideStar community.

Review from Guidestar

ajdraiman

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

i love guidestar! i use it for all of my research in the non-profit world. easy to use, easy to read. i recommend it to all of my clients (foundations and philanthropists) and to all the non-profits i work with as well. and the nicest thing is that most of the basic information you will need is free. the upgrades are amazing, and can be useful as well, of course. guidestar is professional and continuously strives to do better (and not making changes just for the sake of making changes, as so many websites do!). keep up the good work, guidestar.

Review from Guidestar

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I use GuideStar to research nonprofit organizations' IRS forms, especially foundations. I appreciate the ease of use of the system and the ever growing availability of data. I always refer clients and friends to GuideStar as a tool for industry information and decision making for donating, volunteering or collaborating.

Review from Guidestar

Janet34

Client Served

Rating: 5

GuideStar has been a great help to us as a small, young nonprofit. Within the first six months of getting our 501(c)3 in 2011 we created our profile and started loading information into it. We refer potential donors and grantors to it frequently. We encourage our clients, volunteers and board members to write reviews of us. Because we load them ourselves, we know our financials are out there for any interested party to see. Other databases of charities require significant assets, so we are not included in them. Our goal is to serve clients, and we spend our donations on their welfare. We feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to our donors to be transparent, and GuideStar helps us do that. We're extremely proud of our Gold Star rating!

We also use GuideStar when we are approached by a foundation or another nonprofit and asked to submit a grant request or collaborate. We are extremely cautious about our associations, and GuideStar gives us a way to find out information about other organizations before we make any commitments.

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I learned about Guidestar when it just launched (was that 20 years ago?, not sure). Back then the notion of being able to access 990's online was providing a great resource to donors & industry professionals alike. Since then, Guidestar continues to think "outside the box" and strives to provide relevant data to and about the nonprofit community.
Professionally, as a grant-making foundation, we rely on Guidestar for tax exemption checks, informational articles, and as a source to access 990 data. Their website is a very valuable resource to us. We'd participate more if we could make it cost effective. The current product pricing structure does not suit our organization. I would like to see additional member/subscription levels for intermediary use. Perhaps that will come.

In the mean-time: keep up the good work!

Review from Guidestar

Advisor

Rating: 5

I became an advisor to GuideStar because I found the site to be very helpful in both searching for funders as well as learning more about other non-profits. The website is robust and has essential information that provides pathways to donors and also understanding of how other nonprofits get funded. I have introduced this website to donors so they can educate themselves as to the nonprofit they support. Information and easy access makes for a 5 star rating.

Review from Guidestar

Patricia123

Client Served

Rating: 5

Guidestar is the best tool out there with current information on the status of a non profit and a financial picture of an organization. The information is well organized and as up-to-date as it can be. As a staff member of a non profit responsible for our input to Guidestar the tool is has improved significantly since I started using in almost 10 years ago. Thanks Guidestar and your team for keeping transparency in the forefront and helping make information available to donors and funders!

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

This has been a great resource and tool for our organization.
Appreciate all the information and assistance.

Review from Guidestar