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GuideStar Blog

Encouraging Charitable Giving That Has Impact

This morning, Greg Ulrich of Hope Consulting and I participated in a host of interviews with radio and TV stations across the country to talk about how donors can make more effective giving decisions.

With online tools making research easier and less expensive, more and more people are looking at nonprofit information and making more informed choices about the organizations they support.

Here at GuideStar we’re not satisfied with the pace of change. We’d like to see more people doing better research.

Earlier this year, GuideStar teamed up with Hope Consulting to conduct a new study on what it would take to increase donor research on nonprofit organizations. We surveyed more than 5,000 individuals, as well as hundreds of advisers to donors and foundation grant -makers. Our goal? To understand what types of information, in what format, through what channel, would get these groups to do more research, and ultimately, to divert more of their charitable dollars to high-performing nonprofits.

The process and results have been enlightening. I believe that this research – which is just being made public today – will help organizations like ours foster a more informed giving population. Indeed, we are currently experimenting with the information we provide on our site, and how we present it, based on the findings.

While there are many fascinating findings from the research, there were two key takeaways that I found particularly interesting:

  • Donors, advisers, and grant-makers are looking for a complete picture of nonprofit organizations. They want information on financials, impact, and legitimacy (not just one data point), and they want portals like GuideStar to provide them with this range of information (not just simple ratings) so that they can make their own decisions. GuideStar is committed to being the world’s largest and most comprehensive database on nonprofit information. We seek to provide the most complete picture of nonprofit performance that we can, and respect the users to make giving decisions themselves.
  • The most critical need is for better information on effectiveness and impact. This is the highest unmet need of every user group, and critical to identifying which organizations are indeed “high-performing.” Our recent acquisition of Philanthropedia, and partnership in Charting Impact, show our commitment to expanding our focus on impact data. Indeed, the survey showed that all three user groups are interested in self-reported information
    of the type that Charting Impact provides on nonprofit organizations. So, nonprofit leaders – fill out your Charting Impact report now!

Obviously a detailed study with thousands of respondents can’t be summarized easily in a blog post. On our special landing page, http://www.GuideStar.org/moneyforgood, you can find recommendations to help high-performing nonprofits increase funding, help individuals make more informed donation decisions, and how intermediaries like ourselves can do a
better job of presenting information.

Topics: Money For Good