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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.
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."
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.
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.
Getting a basic bronze status takes 15 or 20 minutes, and moving up to silver or gold — not much longer. Currently among the 2.4 million nonprofit records on Guidestar, only a little over 8,000 organizations have gold status. It's a very good time to stand out from the pack.