Yes, if you file a federal nonprofit tax return (Form 990), your organization is probably there, whether you know it or not. Guidestar has a great collection of public information about most nonprofit organizations in the US. And savvy donors go there to find out more about you. Guidestar just released a new tool for managing your profile and you should consider using.
Check it out:
How to Show Your Impact to Funders in Less than 60 Minutes
By Jim Lynch
GuideStar recently launched completely redesigned nonprofit profiles. Now, for free, any U.S. charity can expand its GuideStar profile to tell its story to donors and grantmakers. You can have a bronze, silver, or gold seal of transparency in less than a couple of hours. It may be the most useful couple of hours you invest in fundraising this year.
Going Beyond Financial Metrics and the Overhead Myth
Since the mid-1990s, GuideStar has been posting publicly viewable information about every IRS-registered nonprofit organization so that prospective donors and grantmakers can see reputable information about each nonprofit's mission, legitimacy, and finances.
GuideStar has made a big step towards its 2020 strategic goal to provide a much more detailed picture of each organization's charitable work. It went live on January 20, 2016 with a significant upgrade after working for a year in collaboration with BoardSource, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the D5 Coalition, and Independent Sector.
The new profiles go well beyond the simple financial metrics that had led to the overhead myth. (According to the overhead myth, a charity's legitimacy is largely based on how small its operating expenses are compared with its overall budget.) The new GuideStar profiles instead highlight the progress organizations are making toward accomplishing their overall missions.
There's a new section on "Charting Impact" — five questions that probe the results of a charity's work. GuideStar also added an expanded operations section that includes information on the people, governance practices, and partners that make an organization work. These additions give charities, no matter how small, the chance to have a bronze, silver, or gold seal of transparency.
Jacob Harold, president and CEO of GuideStar, says it this way: "Our new profiles offer enhanced visibility to nonprofits of all sizes. It's important to us that a small, all-volunteer organization has just as much access to GuideStar's 7 million users as a billion-dollar global nonprofit."
Reasons to Update Your GuideStar Profile
One of the biggest fundraising challenges nonprofits face is to stand out among the millions of charities out there. Here are a few reasons why updating your profile is so useful.
- Each year, 7 million people, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media, use GuideStar's data to research and make decisions about supporting charities.
- About 35,000 foundation staff members have GuideStar accounts to research the nonprofits that they fund.
- All major U.S.-based donor advised funds, such as Fidelity Charitable, use the service, as do donation services like AmazonSmile, JustGive, Network for Good, and VolunteerMatch.
- GuideStar is being integrated into leading grants management software like Fluxx and MicroEdge.
- Having a full GuideStar profile will save you time in your grant applications. With just a few keystrokes, a nonprofit can automatically add information from its GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to its grant applicationswith participating funders.
- You can get a free KIMBIA online donation button on your online profile page. This free service is especially useful to charities without a website who want a place to send online donors.
How to Claim or Update Your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile
- Go to guidestar.org/update.
- Click on the blue Get started now button near the center of the screen.
- Sign into your account (use your registered email address and password) — or, if you don't have an account, create one.
- When you're signed in, you should see your organization listed on the page. Click on your organization's name.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to update your profile.
- Bask in how awesome you are!
If you don't see your organization's name, you must request permission to manage your organization's profile. To request permission, enter your organization's Employer Identification Number (EIN), click on the Request permission button, enter the required fields, and submit your request. Your request will be approved in one to two business days.
Choosing Your Level — Bronze, Silver, or Gold