Any nonprofit can have one of two broad types of Web sites. First is a "brochure-ware" site, which simply contains information about the nonprofit. A brochure-ware site can be one page of unformatted text or hundreds of pages of text, graphics, animation, audio, and video. Either way, because all of the pages provide information only, the site is considered a brochure-ware site.
June's Question of the Month asked Newsletter subscribers which resources they use to prepare their Forms 990 and report on finances. Here are the products and sites they mentioned (inclusion in this list is not an endorsement by GuideStar).
Increased scrutiny from Congress, as noted elsewhere in this newsletter, as well as more attention from the media remind us once again that the era of assumed virtue is over. Charitable organizations can no longer take the public's good will for granted. We have to earn it. GuideStar's experience shows that the nation's nonprofits are embracing this challenge.
Since 1996, fully three years before we began posting IRS Forms 990 on our Web site, GuideStar has provided a no-cost, on-line way for nonprofits to provide data about their programs, missions, accomplishments, and leaders. Organizations of all sizes can communicate with the thousands of donors and funders who use GuideStar daily and provide valuable information that gives a better picture of their organizations beyond the Form 990.
Last year, the number of nonprofits that voluntarily provided this information increased 20 percent, to more than 80,000 by the end of the year. This total represents more organizations than those registered with all state nonprofit associations combined.
More exciting to me than the number, however, is what it means for the sector. These organizations recognize that the public's trust is our most vital asset, and they are not waiting for the IRS to fix the Form 990 to increase and strengthen that trust.
The American people are demanding more transparency, and nonprofits are responding: they are embracing transparency and accountability. My colleagues at GuideStar and I are proud to be a part of this revolution in philanthropy. You may want to about our program to increase the number of nonprofits that share their information on GuideStar.
And thank you to everyone who has demonstrated their commitment to transparency. Nonprofit participation is the heart of the GuideStar database.
President and CEO, GuideStar
Abuses by a small minority of tax-exempt organizations, the Internal Revenue Service contends, are endangering the welfare of law-abiding nonprofits and compromising the integrity of the U.S. tax system. Rectifying this situation is one of four principle components of the IRS's strategic plan for 2005-2009. IRS commissioner Mark W. Everson recently outlined actions the IRS is taking:
Call it socially responsible investing. Call it compassionate capitalism. Call it what you will, but don't write it off as lip service. It's a conviction that's being put into action worldwide, as individuals and financial institutions make a difference by investing in low-income communities.
The nation's charitable organizations have come under the Congressional microscope. Last month, committees of both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate held hearings related to tax-exempt organizations, particularly charities.
I took accounting in college—for one day. Although I have never regretted dropping the course, I have since learned that into every life a little bookkeeping must fall, both at work and at home.