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

Three Ways to Step Up Your Data Game

Data can help purpose-driven organizations make better decisions and achieve greater impact. This much is agreed upon. However, in a 2016 survey of nonprofit professionals conducted by EveryAction and Nonprofit Hub, only 6 percent of respondents felt their organizations were effectively using the data at their disposal. In other words, while we know data is important, we are still struggling to use it.

What Makes a Great Fundraiser Great? Five Key Attributes

Hand me a pen and in 30 seconds I could scribble a lengthy list of attributes important to every fundraiser. Narrowing the list to five is next to impossible for someone like me who has decades of experience working with professionals of all kinds.

So forgive me if I stop short of saying the following five are categorically the most important, but certainly these exemplify today’s successful fundraiser.

How to Prime Your Donors to Give Again

A mentor of mine swears it wasn’t strategic.

Two days before the Day of Giving, I received a short little thank-you from his organization for my last gift to them. The thank-you seemed to almost come out of nowhere. It had been months since I donated to them, and they had already thanked me for it.

Grantseekers, How Irritating Are You to Funders? Use This Checklist to Find Out

Hi everyone. Last week, I unveiled the FLAIL Index, a tool that allows foundations to see whether or not their grantmaking process will unleash the demon-god Cthulhu upon this world. I’m now calling it the FLAIL Scale (#FLAILscale), since things that rhyme are always more worth our time. I will be updating the Scale this week, based on your feedback, to increase the aggravation points for certain items, such as requiring people to get anything notarized, as well as add some redemption points. Thank you to everyone who tested the FLAIL Scale, especially those who are actually using it to make their grant process better. You are amazing unicorns, and may Cthulhu spare you in the coming Apocalypse.

This week, for balance, we present the other side: Things that we nonprofits do that make funders want to punch us in the jaws—or worse, not fund our programs.

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit Professional: There's An App for That!

As nonprofit professionals, our “always on” digital lifestyle challenges our ability to find solitude or to contemplate quietly. We have all become experts at being hyper-connected, always in touch and informed, that we have forgotten how to embrace time away from digital devices, screens, and electronic communications. This lack of stillness time can accelerate the symptoms of burnout.

Finish Your Fiscal Year with a Bang: What to Do Between Now and June 30

Fundraisers know all too well the chaos of the December giving-rush. Nearly one-third of all giving occurs in that month alone. If you’re reading this, you made it to January safe and sound. Congrats!

But the start of a new calendar year does not mean that your work is done. It’s now time to refocus your efforts on finishing your fiscal year strong and to ensure that your path to June 30th doesn’t become another end-of-the-year scramble.

Three Ways to Hire a Fundraiser

Do your plans for the New Year include hiring a development director?

Beliefs That Limit Outcomes—for Funders

Part 2 of 3

“How do we know if our philanthropic efforts have made a difference?” “What kind of difference have we made?” These are two common questions that foundation board members and business leaders ask their program staffs. Those leading funding and volunteer efforts often struggle to articulate their impact and tend toward defending their approach, their grantees, their staff, their processes, and their budget when answering. Sometimes they feel that the board or business leaders just don’t understand what it takes to achieve outcomes from grants, sponsorships, or employee volunteerism, or that perhaps they just don’t care.

New Year, New Congress, New President: What’s It All Mean for Nonprofits?

By awarding control of Congress and the White House to one party, voters acted to repeal federal government gridlock. A surge of activity has already started and will accelerate once the new president is sworn in later this week. Significant executive and legislative changes are a near certainty. Some changes will affect nonprofits and foundations directly. Other changes—whether viewed as gentle ripples or violent tsunamis—will be felt when the federal changes hit the state and local levels for implementation.

Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness—It’s Time to Get it Right

There’s lots of public scrutiny about how much nonprofits spend to raise the money they need to fund their missions and work. But there is more to effective fundraising than low costs—and the obsession with minimizing fundraising costs can actually put our organizations at risk. That’s why BoardSource, along with our partners at GuideStar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, has released a new framework and calculation for measuring fundraising effectiveness

Using the New GuideStar Search

The GuideStar Blog Top 10 for 2016

Last week, we wrote about the top 10 GuideStar Newsletter articles for 2016. Today, we're looking at the 10 GuideStar Blog posts that got the most views in 2016.

The Compounding Effects of Salary Negotiations

Combating the Gender-Wage Gap in the Nonprofit Sector

Women make up the majority of nonprofit sector jobs at 69 percent.1 Yet per GuideStar’s 2016 Compensation Report, salaries for women trail those of men in comparable positions at nonprofits of all sizes.2 The gap is widest—23 percent—for female CEOs at nonprofits with $2.5 million to $5 million budgets. In fact, the gender-wage gap persists across industries. The Pew Research Center found that in 2015, women across industries earned 83 percent as much as men.3

Nine Mistakes Nonprofits Make Thanking Donors

Thanking donors is the one thing most nonprofits do not spend enough time thinking about. Too often I find that staff spend 95 percent of their time crafting the fundraising appeal and getting embroiled in project management—design; layout; printing, postage, etc. Finally, the letter (or e-appeal) is ready to launch. The mailing is dropped/the button is punched and ... voila! Gifts start to arrive! But then what?!

Need-to-Know for 2017: Nonprofit Liquidity Information

It is hard to believe we've closed the door on 2016.
With the commotion of holidays and end-of-year requirements, some—particularly smaller nonprofits—may have forgotten about the latest Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14, Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958), issued August 18, 2016, by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Several changes to nonprofit financial reporting include:

  1. Improvements to the presentation and disclosures for net assets classes from the previous three classes of net assets (unrestricted, temporarily restricted, and permanently restricted) to two classes (without donor restrictions and with donor restrictions).
  2. Allowing free choice between the direct method and indirect method in presenting cash flows.
  3. Providing better information about functional expenses and disclosures about how expenses are allocated to management and general.
  4. Augmenting disclosures on underwater endowment funds.
  5. Unifying the reporting of investment returns.
  6. Enhancements to information provided about the liquidity and availability of financial resources.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Start Early and Prepare Now!

I hope last year was a great fundraising year for you and your organization. But I’m sure you’re wondering how you can make this year even better for your nonprofit.

Well, if you want to raise more money, acquire more donors, and strengthen relationships with your current supporters, try peer-to-peer fundraising.

What Does the Nonprofit Sector Really Look Like?

When we think about nonprofits, the most well-known brands, such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or the American Heart Association, might immediately come to mind. But these charities are only a sliver of the organizations that can be found within the nonprofit sector and, in most cases, are even outliers.

Recognizing the Most Innovative Nonprofits of 2016

Applications are open for the Classy Awards, recognizing the most innovative nonprofit and social enterprise programs of 2016.

The Articles You Read Most Last Year

Since January 2012, we've done an annual round-up of the articles GuideStar Newsletter subscribers read most during the preceding year. Each year, articles about fundraising have predominated. An occasional piece about boards or regulation might make a list, but the topics that appeared most were fundraising, fundraising, fundraising.

Data and Infographics: Telling Your Nonprofit’s Story

There are times when visuals just speak louder than words. Whether it’s a picture of people being helped or a colorful chart showing the total amount of funds raised, visuals strike a chord. Nonprofits and relief organizations have always known this, which is why their promotional and marketing materials usually have photos of people they have helped.

Five Things to Do within a Day of the Solicitation Meeting

The meeting’s over and you’ve got the gift, a commitment to think about it, or maybe even a “not now but later.” So what do you do next? How do you further cultivate your donor throughout the year?