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GuideStar Blog

From the President's Office, October 2005

Dear Friend:

We are excited this month to unveil Edu@GuideStar, a new program to connect students, faculty, and academic researchers with GuideStar's nonprofit information. As we have learned more about our users over the last few years, we've been surprised and delighted to learn that a large number of students, teachers, and researchers are using GuideStar data every day in their classroom work. The types of activity vary greatly: students use GuideStar to study individual organizations, teachers rely on GuideStar to help in teaching classes on the entire sector, and researchers explore all sorts of interesting questions on the effectiveness and impact of organizations.

More than 600 academic institutions offer degrees and individual courses on the nonprofit sector, and that number increases yearly. As part of our public service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, GuideStar is offering complimentary access to our highest level of service to those strengthening the nonprofit sector through education. See more information about Edu@GuideStar

We are also proud of the September 15 release of the 2005 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report. The report is GuideStar's fifth annual analysis of nonprofit compensation, and we are proud to be able to continue to make it available.

The GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report remains the only such report based entirely on IRS Form 990 and Form 990-EZ data; other analyses of nonprofit compensation rely on surveys that organizations complete voluntarily. The information covered in the 2005 edition is derived from the returns of more than 83,000 public charities and covers 453 program areas, 9 budget categories, and 264 geographical areas. In addition, the 2005 report presents information on 14 job categories—at least one paid position from each of the 83,000-plus charities included:

  • CEO/executive director
  • Top administrative position
  • Top business position
  • Top development position
  • Top education/training position
  • Top facilities position
  • Top financial position
  • Top human resources position
  • Top legal position
  • Top marketing position
  • Top operations position
  • Top program position
  • Top public relations position
  • Top technology position
Learn more about the GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report

Finally, our September Newsletter asked organizations involved with Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts to take a moment to add this information to their GuideStar Information Forms (GIFs). Two weeks ago, as Hurricane Rita approached the Gulf coast, we asked nonprofits planning to respond to that storm to add that information to their GIFs. To date, more than 600 organizations have reported being involved in Hurricane Katrina relief, and more than 300 have said they were participating in Hurricane Rita efforts.

Although those of us here at GuideStar were not surprised by the number of responses, they brought home to us once again the nonprofit sector's extraordinary range and vitality. Nonprofits in every corner of the nation—including Alaska and Hawaii—have responded to the needs in the Gulf states. The scope of these organizations' missions—everything from immediate emergency services to long-term counseling and rebuilding—have impressed us deeply.

Some of the recovery efforts will continue for years to come. I have every faith that both nonprofits and individuals will continue to support them. My colleagues and I at GuideStar are proud to provide a way to connect donors with the organizations involved in this important task.


Bob Ottenhoff
President and CEO

In the Face of Disaster, Americans Respond with Their Hearts and Minds

National disasters bring out the best in the character of America's citizens, as they rush to the aid of victims of catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. As professional fundraising consultants, we are often asked about the impact of such disasters on fundraising for other philanthropic needs.

Not surprisingly, the news is good. Americans respond with their hearts and their dollars but don't do so at the expense of other worthy causes. According to Giving USA, overall giving increased by 5 percent in 2004, a year heavily affected by the tsunami. But this increase did not occur at the expense of other charities.

Most charities saw giving increase in 2004, although some shifts did occur. Recipients in health care saw the greatest increase while those in the human services sector experienced a slight decline. Yet in spite of one of the earth's greatest disasters, charitable giving domestically still increased.

Now that we face the most significant natural disaster of our time, Hurricane Katrina, followed so soon by Hurricane Rita, concerns are again raised. How will hurricane relief efforts affect total charitable giving in the coming year?

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to the hundreds of thousands of people and their families that have been devastated by these natural disasters. Second, we want to encourage Americans to continue to give and to be wise in their giving. Proper stewardship of these generous gifts will help all philanthropic organizations for years to come.

Making Your Needs Known

How dare we discuss your neediness, you may ask? Isn't it obvious?

Aren't you doing such a good job of show and tell that you leave people thinking you've got it all handled? This, of course, leaves them no room to contribute.

You've got to become masterful at walking the fine line. Let them know you're extraordinarily competent and solid. When it comes to covering the basics, you're the best.

But then there's that gap. The gap between where you are now and where you could be—if only. If only you had more resources—which is where they come in.

In every communication, you've got to portray both—your competence and your needs.

In every newsletter, at every event, in every one-on-one or small group presentation, even in every phone call—make it a habit.

You see, most folks out there don't wake up every morning worrying about the survival and long-term viability of your organization. In fact, odds are, they aren't thinking about you at all.

They need you to remind them, time after time, of why you need their support. If you aren't reminding them in every single encounter, you have no right to expect them to contribute to you.

So, let's look.

Newsletter Readers Respond to Katrina: September Question of the Month Results

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, many individuals and organizations focused their energy on helping the survivors of the devastating storm. To learn more about this response, the September Question of the Month asked Newsletter readers, "Have you personally taken or do you plan to take any action in response to Hurricane Katrina?"

An impressive majority of respondents—90 percent—answered that they had done or were planning to do something. Some 60 percent of those readers were associated with a nonprofit that had taken, was taking, or would be taking action in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Background on Extending Charitable Deductions to Nonitemizers

On September 27, 2005, Representatives Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) introduced H.R. 3908, the Charitable Giving Act, in the House of Representatives. The following day, Senators Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) reintroduced the CARE Act, S. 1780, in the Senate. Both bills include provisions to allow taxpayers who do not itemize on their federal income tax to take charitable deductions, and both are essentially the same legislation that the House and Senate adopted in 2003 but which did not become law.

Independent Sector and the United Way of America have posted analyses of the current proposals:

The United Way of America is also enlisting nonprofit sign-on for a letter supporting charitable deductions for nonitemizers. More than 1,200 national, state, and local organizations have signed this letter. For more information or to sign the letter for your organization, go to the Live United Way Web site and scroll down to "Non-Itemizer Deduction Letter of Support."