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

Navigating State Fundraising Regulations

As online giving increases, so does the importance of complying with state fundraising regulations. Where receiving occasional gifts from donors in some states might not trigger registration or reporting requirements, in other states it does. To help nonprofits navigate state charitable solitication regulations, Harbor Compliance has published a new white paper on the topic.

Danger, Will Grantmaker or DAF! Don't Use GuideStar Premium or GuideStar Pro to Verify Grant and Distribution Recipients

Two questions:

  1. Do you use GuideStar Premium or GuideStar Pro to verify a nonprofit's eligibility to receive grants and charitable distributions?
  2. Are you acting on behalf of a private foundation, community foundation, or other sponsor of donor-advised funds?

Be One of the First to Try GuideStar’s New Nonprofit Search

Most people visit GuideStar to search our Nonprofit Profiles. Together, our users search the database 1.1 million times a month. The database search is a vital part of the user experience.

Our current search was state of the art when we launched it 10 years ago. Although we’ve tweaked and refined it, it’s showing its age. And it can’t hold a candle to searches on sites such as Google, Kayak, and Amazon.

That’s why we’ve spent the last year rebuilding the GuideStar search.  We’ve tested and revised it internally, and now we’re ready to test it in the real world.

Quid Pro Quo: The Fastest Way to Deaden Your Board

 Board members hate quid pro quo fundraising, and I don’t blame them. How intrusive to ask one’s board members to cough up their entire contact list, and how unstrategic.I recently led one of the many board trainings I conduct each year, and heard the same complaints I always hear:

  • “I don’t want to ask all my friends because they’ll ask me in return.”
  • “My friends are deadbeats. I’m tired of asking and not getting anywhere.”
  • “My friends are cheap. They give less to my organization than I give to theirs.”
  • “I’m tapped out. I’ve asked everyone I know.”
  • “They have their own organizations and areas of interest. They’re not interested in mine.”

And they’re right! All these are valid reasons for them not to want to cast the net wide. They should be valid reasons for you as well.

How to Use Corporate Philanthropy Across Your Fundraising Strategies

Your nonprofit has its irons in quite a few fundraising fires. You’re probably working on online solicitation, fundraising events, direct mail and traditional appeals, and mobile fundraising, all while trying to compile your donor data and maintain accurate records.

3 reasons to utilize your relationships with private foundations


The Brief
When soliciting grants from foundations, it's tempting to go for the deepest pockets first. But nonprofits who focus on size only are missing out on a major source of funding, and it's easier to come by than they think. 

Seven Ways a Board Member Can Support His or Her Executive Director and Organization


What do nonprofit executive directors really want from their board members? We know nonprofit leaders rely on their boards for financial support, but they also need so much more from them in non-financial ways. What ways to help mean the most to nonprofit leaders? Who better to ask than this week’s guest blogger, Ellen Simon, the former head of Union Settlement Association, one of Harlem’s largest nonprofits for more th an 100 years. Thanks for the great advice, Ellen!

Become a better fundraiser by liberating your creative side


Fundraising is a creative business.  Dashboards, metrics, and SMART outcomes are all important, but essentially we are in the business of transforming relationships, one donor at a time.  Here are a few tips about keeping the creative juices flowing.

An Unexpected Career: Building Plumbing for Philanthropy

I’ve spent a decade as plumber.  It was the spring of 2006 when I joined the Hewlett Foundation, my professional home before GuideStar.  These last 10 years I’ve been driven by a common purpose: building plumbing for smart philanthropy.  At Hewlett and at GuideStar I’ve been working to support those that pipe good information—about organizations and grants; about practices and insights—to help drive effectiveness in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

When It Comes to Fundraising, Volunteers Get It Right ... and Sometimes Wrong

Not all volunteers are alike, of course, but many share misconceptions when it comes to fundraising. I could point to several dozen as I do in my book, The Busy Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising. But here, I’ll focus on three that rear their heads time and again in my training sessions with boards and committees across America. 

Why Can’t the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector Scale Generosity? #givedaylessons

What Happened on Give Local America Day?

For the past few years, I’ve been facilitating a peer learning group with a small cohort of grantees, all community foundations, hosting Giving Days in their communities using the Giving Day Playbook. The activities for this community of practice included regular conference calls primarily for the cohort, webinars for a broader audience of community foundations, and an online safe space open to any community foundation hosting a giving day to share knowledge and tips with colleagues.

GuideStar Platinum: Measuring Nonprofit Performance at Scale

Social change is hard. And sometimes it can feel that measuring social change is even harder.

How would Walt Disney treat your donors?

Disney is famous for creating magical experiences.

What if you took a page right out of their playbook? How would Disney delight your donors?

Make It Rain: Tips and Tricks for Nonprofit Crowdfunding Success


Two noteworthy free resources to learn more about online fundraising from the UK:  My colleagues at Social Misfits Media launched their latest free guide for charities and nonprofits last week. It is called  ‘Make It Rain: Tips & Tricks for #Crowdfunding Success.’

Lessons for Fundraisers from Money for Good 2015: Interview with Hope Neighbor and Alison Carlman

Money for Good 2015, the third report in the Money for Good series, was published September 1, 2015. Hope Neighbor of Camber Collective, one of the report’s authors, will lead a webinar on what Money for Good 2015 ($FG 2015) means for fundraisers on May 11—and shares some early learnings here. Alison Carlman of GlobalGiving pitches in, sharing reflections on the work that GlobalGiving has done with Camber to refine the $FG donor segmentation tool, available for free download. Recently, GuideStar’s editorial director spoke with Hope and Alison about Money for Good 2015.

Influencing Public as Well as Philanthropic Efforts

As members of the independent sector, we continuously strive to increase our impact in the focus areas of our missions.  We think creatively, plan scrupulously, collaborate where possible, and work hard at maximizing resources we can bring to move the needle.  Many thousands of volunteer and paid staff hours are spent in these efforts.  And, make no mistake, we definitely do move the needle and often have demonstrable impact.  But could we have more impact with similar levels of effort if we focused them differently?

Overcoming Fundraising Reluctance: Tips for Board Members

A common refrain among executive directors
is that board members aren’t involved enough in fundraising. Fundraising, however, is one of the fundamental responsibilities of a board member. Raising support for the organization is a key measure of the board’s commitment to the group’s mission and is one of the most tangible ways to ensure its sustainability.