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From the President's Office, November 2006

Dear Friend:

One of the things I enjoy most is talking to people who use GuideStar. In Melville, Long Island, recently, a tax attorney told me how he was using GuideStar to help his clients make wise donations. A woman in Minneapolis told me how estate planners used GuideStar to select her organization for a sizeable endowment. In Philadelphia, a man described to me how GuideStar gave him a better picture of the nonprofit sector. Wherever I go, I always find enthusiastic users who tell me that they love GuideStar. Many say they can't do without us; others tell me how much they appreciate the way we've helped transform the nonprofit sector.

Your feedback means a lot to those of us who work at GuideStar. We're committed to meeting your needs and, with GuideStar data, helping you make better and more confident decisions and operate more efficient and effective organizations. I hope all of you who come to this site feel that you're part of a GuideStar community and have a stake in what we do and how we do it.

After hearing the initial response from users, I always ask a second question: what can we do better? One of the most common answers is always—improve the search engine!

And so, this month, thanks to your feedback, we'll be doing just that.

I'm excited about this development for several reasons. First, our new search is significantly faster than the one currently on our site. Your search results will appear in a matter of seconds, and often in a fraction of that time.

Second, your search results will be more relevant. Organizations at the top of your results set will match your search criteria better than our current search does.

Third, you will be able to let us know what you think about the new search results. Our home page, advanced search page, and search results pages will all have a "Feedback" or "Tell us what you think" link. Based on your feedback, we will continue to refine the new search engine to make the results even better. So please tell us what you like—and don't like—about our new search.

Over the last few weeks, hundreds of GuideStar users have volunteered to test out our new search engine. They've helped us refine the search results and identify the particular needs of those who use nonprofit data. We hope you'll agree with our volunteers that we're making a great leap forward with our new search engine. Be sure to use the feedback links to let us know what you think. Your comments on what is working, what isn't working, and what could be working better will help us improve your experience on GuideStar even more.


Bob Ottenhoff
President and CEO

Is the Glass Ceiling Weakening? Highlights of the 2006 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report

Excerpts from the executive summary

The 2006 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report is based on 108,606 observations from 63,065 Forms 990 filed by 501(c) organizations with the IRS for fiscal year 2004. Among the highlights:

  • Median compensation of females continued to lag behind that of males when considering comparable positions at similar organizations.

  • Females held 57 percent of CEO positions at organizations with expenses of $1 million or less but only 36 percent at organizations with expenses of greater than $1 million. Overall, women held 44 percent of the positions reported upon but received only 33 percent of the total compensation.

  • There were indications that females were making up ground relative to their male counterparts at organizations with budgets of $25 million or more. Median compensation increases from 2003 to 2004 for women incumbents generally outpaced those of men for most positions. Results were mixed for smaller organizations.

Compensation Gap

As in past reports, women's compensation lagged behind that of men. Females, however, made gains between 2000 and 2004. For example, in FY 2000, median compensation of male CEOs at the very largest organizations was 45.7 percent higher than that of women. The FY 2004 difference is a still substantial, but much smaller, 25.6 percent.

Women in the Nonprofit Board Room

Median percentage increases in compensation for incumbent female CEOs were generally larger than those received by males from 2003 to 2004. In organizations with budgets of $10 million or larger, that was also true for other top positions. In smaller organizations, the results were mixed.

Median Increase in Incumbent CEO Compensation by Gender, 2003-2004

Budget Size Females Males
Greater than $50 million 8.5% 6.7%
Between $25 million and $50 million 7.0% 5.4%
Between $10 million and $25 million 5.2% 5.3%
Between $5 million and $10 million 4.6% 4.3%
Between $2.5 million and $5 million 4.4% 4.0%
Between $1 million and $2.5 million 3.7% 3.7%
Between $500 thousand and $1 million 4.0% 3.4%
Between $250 thousand and $500 thousand 3.7% 3.6%
$250 thousand or less 3.0% 1.9%

Women did not make significant progress between 2000 and 2004 when it came to getting their share of top positions. They continued to hold the majority of positions at organizations with budgets of less than $1 million. As budget size increased, however, female representation in the top positions decreased quickly. They held 57 percent of the CEO positions at organizations of less than $1 million but only 36 percent at organizations larger than that. At the very top of the sector, organizations with budgets of more than $50 million, females held only 14 percent of the CEO positions. Except for the smallest organizations, female representation in the corner office was essentially static in 2004 when compared with 2000.

Chuck McLean, September 2006
© 2006, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)

Chuck McLean is GuideStar's vice president for research.

The Power Team, Part II: The CEO

The nonprofit field is full of leadership opportunities. From my experience as a fundraiser and nonprofit leader for the last 38 years, I think that an organization's ability to succeed is determined by the leadership characteristics of the chief executive officer (CEO). As I look at the successes of the broader institution, it is clear that this individual's traits or behaviors have the most direct impact. The CEO's capacity to provide the vision and forum for others to excel has become more and more clear to me as I have worked with organizations throughout the years.

What Nonprofit Transparency Means to You: October Question of the Month Results

The October Question of the Month asked, "What does 'nonprofit transparency' mean to you?" The responses fell into two categories: (1) financial accountability and (2) openness about missions and programs.

Financial Accountability

Aimee LaBrake of the Tackle Marketing Group, which provides services to nonprofits, defined nonprofit transparency as "a clear view into where the donations/gifts given to the non-profit are distributed, as well as the overall costs of running the non-profit organization." Judith Tomlinson of Those Against Drunk Driving agreed: "When working with communities, community donors need to know where their money is going."

John C. McGee of Family Relations Program, Inc. elaborated, "A willingness to provide information about the nature and activities of your organization including but not limited to governance, finance, program, outcome measures to your funders and the general public. In addition, you should be willing to answer reasonable questions about the information and be able to explain the material to those who have a need to know." Along the same lines, Donna Valente of the Christopher Reeve Foundation maintained, "Nonprofit transparency means that the organization's finances, operations and programs are absolutely ethical and open to inspection."

Other participants mentioned adherence to federal and state regulations, annual financial audits, timely submission of reporting documents, and clear accounting methods and record keeping.

Openness about Mission and Programs

Several participants pointed to the importance of ensuring that all activities support an organization's mission. As one anonymous participant wrote, "There is nothing to hide. The mission is clear and organizational activity reflects that."

For Dr. Anthony A. Adamo, chief development officer of the Children's Home, Inc., "nonprofit transparency" means that "everything we do must be clearly understood and open to review and thoughtful discussion by all stakeholders to gain their complete confidence and respect."

A Holistic View

For many participants, "nonprofit transparency" encompasses every aspect of an organization. As an anonymous participant said: "I think of the acronym DWYSYWD (do what you say you will do). Do the actions of the organization reflect the core values and mission it promotes? Is there genuine evidence of the agency's high regard for integrity across all core aspects of the agency—from program operation and hiring practices, to evaluation and communications as well as the financial practices (where most media attention often gravitates). Examples of evidence may include recognizing and abiding to all applicable state and federal laws, exploring appropriate accreditation opportunities, completing regular annual reports/audits and making that information readily available to funders, using independent researchers to conduct program evaluations, maintaining open lines of communication between donors and the like." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Suzanne E. Coffman, November 2006
© 2006, Philanthropic Research, Inc. (GuideStar)

Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's director of communications and editor of the Newsletter.