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

Goodbye Millennials, Hello Generation Z

Dear nonprofit leaders—I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is you’ve finally mastered the art of Millennial engagement. You’ve read the blog posts, spent night and day to decipher the inner chambers of the Millennial mind, and you’ve mastered it. Job well done.

The bad news is: Generation Z is coming a-knocking.

All Right, “Color-Blind” Colleagues, We Need to Have a Talk

In my work and travels I’ve met some really incredible people doing amazing stuff. Every meeting, every trip restores my faith in our sector, as well as replenishes my office’s supply of pens and chapsticks from various exhibitors at conferences.

But once a while, I encounter people who are “color-blind,” who say things like:

  • “Vu, I love what you say about nonprofits needing to be more inclusive. You know, I have a grown son who has diverse friends. And he has never once referred to his friends by their skin color characteristics. Not once. I think it’s wonderful that he just doesn’t see color.”

Navigating Nonprofit Marketing, Part 2: Optimizing User Experience

Part 1 recap:

  • Marketing is just as applicable to .orgs as it is to .coms, and a nonprofit can and should approach marketing the same way as (if not better than) a for-profit.
  • We are currently living in an attention economy. The digital world is inundated with products, brands, and people seeking attention. To attract eyes to your organization, you must be more interesting than your prospect’s current subject of attention.

I Was Framed!  What Leaders Must Know About Recognition

Yeah, I was framed. Not in the figurative sense, like somebody set me up. No, I was framed. Literally.

Four Board Behaviors Requiring Mr. Fix-it

In my book, What Every Board Needs to Know, Do, and Avoid, I make clear that the success of a board is determined in part by its collective ambition. It is easier to create a great board if you strive to be great.

How to Maximize Your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile, Part 1

Last updated: September 4, 2019.

Life as a nonprofit professional can be incredibly hectic. And by the end of the day, finding time to add information to your nonprofit’s profile on GuideStar may seem like a Herculean task. But, if you have the right tools, updating your profile shouldn’t require the strength of a demi-god. As a profile coach at GuideStar, I’d like to provide you with these essential tools, in the hopes of saving you time and energy, while boosting your organization’s growth and fundraising efforts.

Our Grantees Increase Visibility by Updating Free GuideStar Profiles

As a foundation, it can be difficult to find ways (beyond making grants) to support our grantees and, at the same time, improve their visibility in their communities and the wider world. With this challenge in mind, the foundation’s board of directors and I developed a two-pronged project inspired by a webinar I attended in September 2016.

Even if You Fundraise "Perfectly," Not Knowing This Could Leave You Unemployed

Even if you fundraise perfectly, not knowing this could leave you unemployed in one year.

Listening in New Ways: An Invitation

Nonprofits and funders have many ways they can collect data to understand how they are doing in their work—including in-process performance indicators and longer-term measures of impact. Another important source of data and insight, and one we believe is often overlooked, is feedback from nonprofits’ clients, customers, and beneficiaries about how a program is going from their perspective. With the Listen for Good initiative, a funder collaborative called Fund for Shared Insight is focused on exactly this—building the practice of listening and responding to those we ultimately aim to serve. We invite funders and nonprofits to join us in a national, open request for proposals to support listening in a new, more systematic way.

Find Data in Your Organization's Everyday Activities

With the ever-increasing emphasis on data, its collection, and its many applications, many nonprofits are wondering where they can find useful data sets without spending a fortune. Nonprofits often fall under the misconception that Big Data has to cost Big Bucks for expensive database subscriptions or hiring data analysts. 

Fame and Fortune Await! Take the NEW Major Gifts Challenge

Fame and fortune can be yours—raise major gifts for your cause and you can be both RICH and FAMOUS!

Are Emotional Attachments Obstructing Your Nonprofit’s Growth?

The emotional attachments that some nonprofit stakeholders possess are remarkably powerful. It takes enthusiasm, pride, dedication, and passion to coagulate a community of supporters who are loyal to an organization and its mission.

These emotional attachments might include ideas, mindsets, feelings, programs, relationships, people, and places that are associated with a nonprofit. They may be time-honored and woven into the fabric of the organization, and can even inspire stakeholders to donate, contribute their time, and put the organization’s strategic goals on a pedestal.

But what happens when organizations must develop new approaches to advance their services in an environment that is continuously changing?

Stop Thinking Outside the Fundraising Box

Time and time again I hear the call for developing fundraising solutions that are “outside the box.” Too often, creative development professionals attempt to devise catchier fundraising events or complicated, highly segmented direct mail appeals in an effort to generate more charitable dollars. Unfortunately, more often than not, the return on investment (ROI) of these plans falls far short of expectations.

How the Olympic Motto Can Help You Find Better Nonprofit Tools

Nearly any manual task your nonprofit is doing right now can be automated with a free or low-cost online tool. So why are many nonprofits not taking full of advantage of the tools specifically built to make their lives easier? In our experience, one big hurdle is that there are so many tools out there, it’s hard to know which ones will actually help you. Some tools sound good, but are they really worth your time and money? 

Five Top Nonprofit CRM Software Features and How to Use Them

If you’re a part of the nonprofit world, you’ve heard a lot of talk about the importance of working with nonprofit CRM software. 

Helping Survivors in Idlib Province, Syria

More than 70 persons have died after an apparent chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib Province, Syria, on April 4, 2017. Another 100 are in hospitals receiving treatment for injuries suffered in the bombing, and the number of other injured may exceed 400.

Is a Do-It-Yourself Feasibility Study a Good Idea?

Imagine this ...

Your organization is planning a capital campaign to raise $4.5 million for a new building that’ll more than double the number of people you are able to serve.

This will be your first capital campaign. Your board members have little campaign experience and you are all appropriately anxious.

Time to Talk Payouts

The following article is cross-posted with permission from Alliance magazine blog. Based out of the UK, Alliance magazine is the leading global magazine on philanthropy and social investment.

Foundation payouts—how much a foundation spends as a proportion of their assets each year—might sound obscure and esoteric but the reality is anything but that. In the United States and Australia, a minimum payout of 5 percent is required by law, in Canada it’s 3.5 percent, but in the United Kingdom and elsewhere foundations are free, within reason, to spend how much (or little) as they like.

Three Things to Consider in Mid-Level Donor Communications

Imagine giving $1,000 or more to an organization you faithfully support, but you stop hearing from them one month after you give. Worse yet, what if you never heard from them at all? This scarce communication provides no incentive for you to give again, yet many organizations are neglecting mid-level donors in this exact way. Stuck in donor purgatory between the communication strategies for small and major donors, mid-level givers like you fall into a communications black hole.

The Importance of Training Your Board

If we think we can send board members out to fundraise without giving them tools, we might need some analysis. What are we thinking?! It’s a license for complete failure, and the proof is in the pudding. Time and again our board members fail to partner successfully with staff to develop the organization’s resources because we never show them how or provide the training.