The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

A Thanksgiving Message


I liked this blog from Seth Godin and wanted to share it with all my friends in the nonprofit sector:

A modern thanksgiving

Wherever you are, you could celebrate Thanksgiving today.

What Does It Take to Merge Nonprofits?


Ever since the economy began to deteriorate in late 2008, I’ve been hearing stories about how there was going to be a huge wave of consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions in the nonprofit sector. In fact, I have heard or read about very few. When it comes down to it, merging nonprofit organizations is usually quite complicated – with many board and management issues – and often doesn’t solve the economic issues at the heart of the matter.

Show Me the Money! Going from "Friendraising" to Fundraising

Another question from readers of my GuideStar Newsletter articles this year:

The Best Holiday Fundraising Appeal You've Never Tried

This past summer the Society of Singers, a nonprofit that provides financial support to professional singers dealing with career-threatening illnesses or other emergencies, found itself face to face with numerous challenges. In addition to having to adjust its budget and relocate to a staff member's home, its CEO/president retired, and the organization's new leadership was confronted with the challenge of raising $110,000 in a very short amount of time.

Society of Singers immediately set to work reaching out to its supporters. The organization sent out numerous e-mails and campaign letters—including a link to its profile on GreatNonprofits, where it has 55 glowing reviews—asking supporters to donate money:

"After 26 years of service to the Singers' Community, we have helped over 3,000 singers with nearly $3 million. We can assure you that the need for SOS is still there as the stream of endless calls for assistance continues. Don't just take our word for it, read testimonials from singers helped at"

Sure enough, donations started coming in. Over the summer, the Society of Singers was able to raise $45,000 and, more importantly, is still around to serve the singers' community.

If your organization is facing similar challenges, as we know many nonprofits are, it's our hope that reviews can help freshen up your fundraising and give you powerful stories that are compelling to donors.

What Reviews Can Do for You

In a survey of nearly 150 of GreatNonprofits' top-rated nonprofits this summer, organizations like yours listed the following benefits of collecting stakeholder reviews on GreatNonprofits:

  • Fundraising: including reviews in fundraising materials has helped raise money and find new donors
  • Volunteers: incorporating reviews into marketing and outreach materials has helped recruit new volunteers
  • Programs: stakeholder feedback has helped shape programmatic changes
  • Staff morale: many organizations reported a boost in staff morale as a result of receiving positive reviews from its stakeholders

How You Can Use Reviews This Holiday Giving Season

Fundraising is probably on your mind, so this season, why not let your stakeholders' words do the talking? Donors are having to make tough decisions about where to give in this tough economy, and they are looking for powerful stories of your impact. Maybe a client's life was changed by your organization's services, a volunteer's eyes were opened to a new cause, or a board member found a real sense of purpose serving on your organization's board. These are the reasons your organization is donation-worthy, so share them with your potential donors!

Here are just a few ideas for using your reviews:

  • Highlight reviews via social media. A snippet on your Facebook page, for example, might be what draws a new donor to your organization's website.
  • Incorporate reviews directly into fundraising appeals. After all, prospective donors want to know why they should donate to you, and who better to vouch for you than people who have been directly involved withyour organization?
  • If you don't have any reviews on GreatNonprofits yet, need we say it? Start asking your supporters to review your organization! Emphasize that even if they don't have funds to donate during the holidays, they are helping you out by sharing their story of your organization. Giving comes in many forms.

Xenia Shih, GreatNonprofits
© 2010, GreatNonprofits

Xenia Shih is a marketing manager for GreatNonprofits, a Web site where people who have firsthand knowledge of a nonprofit—board members, volunteers, donors, recipients of services—can tell others about their experiences with the organization.

Do-It-Yourself Compensation Analysis: The New, Improved GuideStar CEO Compensation Checkpoint Report

Last year, we introduced CEO Compensation Checkpoint Report, a customized report that analyzed CEO compensation at a specific nonprofit within a group of comparable organizations. This year, we've made the report even more flexible and put the power in the user's hands. You can now use National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes or location to identify peer organizations that best align with your organization's mission and programs.

Follow-up to Webinar Discussion with KIMBIA


What Would You Do With $4 Billion Dollars?


What would you do if someone gave you $4 billion dollars with only one requirement: that it is spent on promoting civic engagement, providing voter education, and encouraging efforts to get out the vote? That’s the amount of money experts are estimating was spent on Tuesday’s election campaigns. And what did we get in return?

Keeping Your Board Engaged for Your Cause

As 2010 winds down, I wanted to answer a question that came up several times in response to my GuideStar Newsletter articles this year:

I Got Dumped: The Dark Side of Volunteer/Staff Relationships

Reprinted from Contributions Magazine

The Gift Acceptance Policy: What Is It, and Why Does Your Organization Need It?

Adopting, implementing, and monitoring sound governance policies to accomplish an organization's mission continue to be at the forefront of issues of concern to the nonprofit community. Even implementing the most basic policies encourages operational and managerial efficiency.

Halloween Weekend in our Nation’s Capital


Saturday was a terrific day for bicycling in Washington D.C. Most of the major streets were closed to car traffic and we could pretty well cruise anywhere we wanted to go without fear of being run over. Plus, it turned out to be very entertaining watching tens of thousands of fun loving people attracted to the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert rally on the Mall and various Halloween parties around the city. Below is a brief collection of some of the signs we saw. Special thanks to Erinn Andrews of Philanthropedia for sharing some of her favorite pictures from the rally!

Follow-up to Webinar Discussion with Sacha Litman of Measuring Success