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

Giving Season Giveaway Winners Share Their Experience

Last week, the winner of the GuideStar-KIMBIA 2011 Giving Season Giveaway, Golden Gate Basset Rescue (GGBR), received their check for $5000 and were nice enough to share their experience with us!

Our focus on impact

It’s no secret that GuideStar has long been at the forefront of the discussion on nonprofit transparency and accountability, and now we’re taking a hard look at the issue of nonprofit impact. We partnered with Independent Sector and BBB Wise Giving Alliance on the Charting Impact initiative, which I’ve blogged about before.

The Nonprofit CFO

Nonprofit CFO of the Year Award luncheon

Announcing the new format to our nonprofit reports

Click here to see my video about the new and improved design of our nonprofit reports, with revitalized, comprehensive, and detailed information that focuses on impact and advances transparency to help people who research nonprofits make better, more educated, and more confident decisions. For an example of this new format, visit GuideStar’s own nonprofit report:

A Quick Quack: Turn 2011 trends into 2012 resolutions

The following is a cross-post by Sarah Durham, principal and founder of Big Duck, a marketing and communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits to help them raise money and increase visibility. You can find the original post here. This is the first in our series called A Quick Quack – focusing on best communications practices for nonprofits.

What Does It Mean to Be a Good Leader?

No brand, no matter how good the products, services, or messaging it represents, can ultimately succeed in the absence of good management leadership.

Peer to Peer Fundraising: It's Not What You Think

Excerpted from How to Raise $500 to $5,000 from Almost Anyone, revised and expanded edition

My friend Susan was the chief fundraiser for a nonprofit in a rural part of the country. In the course of her work, she interacted with a number of major donors.

Before launching a recent fundraising campaign, she sat down with her spouse and said, "I'm preparing to ask a lot of people for a lot of money. If I'm going to have any credibility during these conversations, we need to donate as much as we possibly can." They discussed it and committed $2,500—a significant gift given their economic situation.

Fast forward a few weeks: there she is, sitting with a couple in their living room, discussing the fundraising campaign. When it comes time to ask, she says, "My spouse and I are giving $2,500 to the organization this year. This is a big commitment for us. I don't know what a comparable gift would be for you, but that's what I'm hoping for."

After a moment of silence, one of the donors turns to her and says, "Well, if $2,500 is a stretch for you, then we're in for $100,000."

My friend broke into tears—just so we're clear, these were tears of joy—and her donors were kind enough to offer her a box of Kleenex and a comforting hand.

One of the persistent myths about fundraising is that economic peers have to be involved in the meeting. This notion is built on the persistent fantasy that, to be successful, you need a board of wealthy people who will ask their wealthy friends for money. As this story shows, the peer-to-peer concept isn't based on wealth or the size of the respective gifts; rather, it's based on the fact that both asker and donor are deeply committed to the mission of the organization, and both make gifts that are significant to them.

Maybe you're not comfortable revealing the amount you give. I respect that—but you still need to find ways to inspire and challenge the donor. Here are a few other options that might work:

"As a board member, this organization is one of my top three charitable commitments. I hope you'll consider making it one of your top three."

"For this capital campaign, our family gave the biggest contribution we've ever given—and it felt good. What amount would feel good to you?"

"I thought about how much I would feel comfortable giving, and then I decided to stretch myself a little. We're hoping for a 'stretch gift' from you."

In other words, you're only asking the donor to do something you've already done yourself. This gives you credibility and authority, which makes your request sound reasonable.

The story about my friend the fundraiser has an even happier ending. She stayed in touch with her donors throughout the year, building and strengthening the relationship. When it was time for the next campaign, she called to ask for an appointment.

"Are we going to make you cry again this year?" the donor asked, laughing.

Without missing a beat, she said, "I sure hope so."

Andy Robinson
© 2011, Emerson & Church, Publishers. Excerpted from How to Raise $500 to $5,000 from Almost Anyone, revised and expanded edition; excerpted with permission.

Andy Robinson provides training and consulting for nonprofits in fundraising, grantseeking, board development, marketing, earned income, planning, leadership development, and facilitation. Over the past 16 years, Andy has worked with organizations in 47 U.S. states and Canada. He specializes in the needs of groups working for human rights, social justice, environmental conservation, arts, and community development. Andy is the author of several books, including How to Raise $500 to $5,000 from Almost Anyone and Great Boards for Small Groups.

Managing the Trust Relationship between Volunteers and the Nonprofit

12 Big Ideas for 2012

The following is a guest cross-post by Brian Reich, SVP Global editor for Edelman Digital. If you are interested in submitting a blog, please send your name, contact information, and a sentence or two about the content of the post to Be sure to include how your topic can help advance the philanthropic sector, and help nonprofits do their work better.

The GuideStar Newsletter Top 10 for 2011

So, what caught GuideStar Newsletter readers' attention last year? Was it the historic revocation of exempt status for 275,000 nonprofits? The impact of uneven economic recovery on charitable organizations? The launch of a new platform on which nonprofits can demostrate their impact?

Getting Ready for 2012: Seven Tips to Boost Your Fundraising Results

Ironic, isn't it, that in this "age of convenience" we have to struggle more than ever to manage our time in order to meet our fundraising goals? There are meetings to attend, events to plan, newsletters and publications to produce, and need I even mention that endless stream of e-mails? Still, it's absolutely crucial that, in this maelstrom of activities, we not lose sight of the bigger picture: continuously growing our base of support to ensure program services. As time-consuming as this task may be, there are ways to do it efficiently and with great success. Below, I've listed seven tips from top-performing fundraising organizations to expand your base and boost your fundraising results.

GuideStar-KIMBIA 2011 Giving Season Giveaway Winner

Thanks to everyone who competed and contributed during the GuideStar-KIMBIA 2011 Giving Season Giveaway. In the past two months, more than 1,690 donations were submitted through GuideStar, generating more than $251,000 in donations to hundreds of organizations.

Musings on leadership from reading the news

As leaders, we quickly learn that much of the success of our organization depends on our abilities to attract, motivate, inspire and retain skilled, committed people. Several newspaper articles over the last week gave me some special insights into how to do it right. From Ahmet Ertegan and Tom Friedman I learned that trusting in our people to do the right thing is essential. Walter Isaacson used lessons from Steve Jobs to point out the critical role of intuition and attention to the needs of customers. Ross Douthat reminds us that leaders have much to be humble about.

Our letter to the Boston Globe’s editors – part II

A recent article in The Boston Globe, “Why We Give to Charity,” cautioned potential givers not to think or let their brains get in the way. We all know how technology has revolutionized accessibility to information and learning opportunities. Regardless, the structural nature of the philanthropic sector is different than that of the private or government sectors. While the article was a thoughtful examination of today’s nonprofit landscape, the interpretation and results of two academic studies highlighted in the article suggested that donors thought too much about his or her donation decision might decide not to donate at all.