Millions of people search GuideStar every year to learn more about nonprofits. And almost 8,000 nonprofits shared nearly $1 million in donations through our website in 2010. However, I like to think of the GuideStar as hub of information more than a destination site. Therefore when a nonprofit manager tells me, “People are probably not searching for my nonprofit on GuideStar,” I say, “But they are likely searching for your nonprofit on any number of giving sites.” That’s why I feel that if a nonprofit wants to increase their visibility, then please start by updating your GuideStar Exchange report.
Last week’s webinar focused on our partner network and grantmaker due diligence. For example, your nonprofit’s information appears on websites all over the internet. Also, grantmakers such as The California Endowment, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and others are doing due diligence on GuideStar. Not all funders reference or request information posted on Guidestar. But many do use GuideStar in various ways. In fact, I’ll be presenting, along with Dolores Estrada and Jordan Faires, at the Grant Mangers Conference about how funders can use GuideStar both as a central repository of information and for their due diligence.
Unfortunately we were unable to get to all of your questions during the webinar. Therefore, as promised, I’m answering them in this blog with the help of our Director of Nonprofit Services, Melanie Beaumont:
Q: How long after we submit our Form 990 to the IRS can we expect to see it on GuideStar?
A: Posting Form 990 images is an ongoing process. We receive the 990s directly from the IRS. It takes approximately two to six months after an organization files its 990 with the IRS for the 990 to appear on GuideStar.
Q: We do not have our 2010 990 or audited report yet. Should I update our info with the 2009 report?
A: Yes, we would suggest uploading the 2009 until the 2010 is available.
Q: How long does it take to update to the seal level once the non-profit clicks “Send to GuideStar”?
A: Once submitted, your information will be posted on GuideStar within 24-48 business hours.
Q: Are LLCs created for charitable purposes eligible to create a profile on GuideStar?
A: GuideStar lists all 501c organizations registered with the IRS. If you recently received a Letter of Determination from the IRS, you are able to forward it to us and we are able to get your organization listed sooner than waiting for the IRS to update the Business Master File.
Q: Is there a template for small organizations (e.g., $25,000 budget) who want to prepare an annual report and financial statement for Guidestar seal?
A: If your organization does not or has not yet produced an Annual Report, you may upload a brochure/pamphlet, poster, newsletter, press release, or a Word document in place of the Annual Report stating that your organization has not yet or does not publish an Annual Report. We also suggest that you use the “Basic Financial Statement” tab to enter in basic revenue and expense figures.
Q: I need to know how to apply for my organization in Guidestar?
A: Click on the yellow tab at the top of the page labeled “Update Nonprofit Report.”If you do not have a username and password, please register first. Once registered, if you do not currently have permission to update your organizations nonprofit report, enter the organization’s Employer Identification Number (eg. xx-xxxxxxx) and click on the “Request Permission” button to apply for permission. Once your request has been approved, return to the “Update Nonprofit Report” page to make updates.
Q: What do you mean by “claimed your profile”?
A: This means to submit a request to have access to the GuideStar Exchange Form for your organization.Please see the answer to the previous question for instructions
Q: The report is claimed by another member of the organization. I requested permission but no response. What can I do to get this completed?
A: Please forward your organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) to email@example.com and we will investigate. Please include your e-mail address that needs to be given permissions.
Q: Is there a way to have more than one person at a nonprofit have access to the Guidestar page?
A: Yes, but if there is already someone from the organization associated with the Exchange Form, any additional representative will need to be approved through NPOServices. Please forward the contact name and e-mail for each individual that needs to have access to the organization’s GuideStar Exchange Form. Please note each e-mail will need to be registered with a username and password at GuideStar prior to be given permissions.
Q: Where can I find a list of requirements for the GuideStar Exchange Seal?
A: See the Nonprofit Report Checklist.
Q: Some of those double-asterisks items require only a yes/no response, for example, some of the questions about what policies and procedures. Does the answer have to be “yes” to satisfy the requirement?
A: “Yes” is not required.
Q: Our nonprofit is newly formed and our c 3 status is pending with the IRS. Also, we do not yet have audited financial statements, an annual report, etc. Do we need to wait a year until we have all these documents before we can register at Guidestar?
A: GuideStar is unable to list organizations that are currently waiting for an IRS determination. Once the determination has been approved by the IRS, you may forward a copy of the Letter of Determination to our NPOServices department and we will be able to get your organization listed. It can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 757-229-8912
Q: My agency does not produce an annual report. Can we still qualify for the GuideStar Exchange seal?
A: Yes. Upload a brochure, pamphlet, poster, newsletter, press release, or a Word document stating that your organization does not have an annual report.
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I am with The American Legion National Headquarters. Besides submitting a 990 and an audited financial statement annually; we are required to report our progress to the U.S. Congress each year, and our national commander must meet with the President of the U.S. every year. GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and the Better Business Bureau each have their own, lengthy forms that must be filled in to satisfy each of your requirements. Now we have “expert” and personal evaluators who are going to rate us. Would it be possible for GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and the Better Business Bureau to get together and standardized your forms so that by filling in one form, we would have filled in all the forms?
And, in our case, where does it end? Isn’t Congressional and Presidential oversite enough? We spent tens of million of dollars helping hundreds of thousands of people and families last year. For the most part, our administration costs are covered by our membership dues each year. So, every dollar that is donated for a particular cause goes to the mission and is not spent on administration. I doubt if there are many other nonprofits who have as good a record as The American Legion.
- Lindsay Nichols
Thanks for reading our blog and participating in this important dialogue Michael. We applaud all of your efforts to help people and to stay in good standing with your various oversight agencies.
While we can’t speak to the individual requirements of CN and BBB, it’s important to note that our GuideStar Exchange program (http://www2.guidestar.org/rxg/update-nonprofit-report/tell-funders-everything-in-one-report.aspx) is completely voluntary. We make it available to all nonprofits, and we’ve found that those organizations that want to go the extra mile to showcase the inner-workings of their organization and symbolize their transparency are participants. That said, we are pleased to say that we have partnered with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Independent Sector on an initiative called Charting Impact. Our very goal is to standardize the process that nonprofits use to showcase their impact. You can find more about that at http://www.chartingimpact.org. We are also pleased to say that we, along with Charity Navigator, were involved in the market testing for Money for Good II – see http://www2.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2011/results-of-money-for-good-2.aspx for more details – so we certainly try to intersect our work when and how we can.
In terms of evaluations, we believe that these are incredibly important to the sector. Personal evaluations showcase real-life interactions with nonprofits, and expert reviews are highly valuable in terms of determining which nonprofits are the highest-performing. Neither of those should be a hardship – and in fact we encourage nonprofits to take those positive reviews and pass them on so their good works can be shared by all.
Thanks again to everyone in your organization for all of your hard work every day on behalf of your constituents, and thanks for commenting on my blog.
José Fernández, Director, GuideStar Exchange
I have to say that for the past couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this site. Keep up the great work.