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

2018 Was Another Wild Ride. Can We Unbuckle Our Seatbelts Yet?

It’s hard to believe 2018 will soon be in the rear-view mirror.

Doesn’t it seem like yesterday, when we greeted January with the new Tax Bill of 2017 in effect?

We all wondered if we’d see more of the fundraising volatility we experienced from late 2016 through 2017. We all wished for a less challenging, more stable year for funding our nonprofit work! But we also worried about how the changes to charitable deductions might affect giving. We hoped for the best, but buckled up tight.


Nonprofit Event Planning: 6 Web Tactics to Boost Engagement

Nonprofit organizations of all sizes rely on fundraising events to keep their supporters engaged with their work during and between major fundraising campaigns. While nonprofit events come in all shapes and sizes, from formal galas and auctions to casual lunches and street fairs, the importance of smart planning strategies is a constant.


Special Gratitude for Donors Who Give to Local Nonprofits

Online platforms, such as GlobalGiving, are removing borders and barriers to make giving farther away easier than ever before.

Yet, as the world continues to shrink, we express special gratitude to donors who give local.


6 Tools to Launch Your Peer-to-Peer Campaign to Success

For any nonprofit with a group of dedicated supporters who have demonstrated their commitment to the organization as donors or volunteers, a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign has the potential to benefit everyone involved.


Is Microvolunteering Right for Your Nonprofit?

For most nonprofits, it can be easy to think of volunteering in black and white: people are committed volunteers with certain shifts or volunteer duties, or they don’t volunteer much at all (if ever). The good news is that volunteering is shifting—many nonprofits and causes are moving from ongoing, long-term arrangements to smaller, infrequent volunteer opportunities that take volunteers’ busy work schedules into account.


Cultivating a Culture of Philanthropy on Your Board

Ask not-for-profit board members if they enjoy fundraising and their responses will vary widely. Some members are happy to participate if given the green light by their organizations. In my experience, however, many board members find soliciting donations uncomfortable or even distasteful. Some feel they don't have the necessary personal connections or wealth. Or they say, "It's just not my job."

Today, however, fundraising is everyone's job if a not-for-profit is to be successful and sustainable.


Grateful Givers: A Lesson from Dad

Seasons Greetings, Gratitude, and Greatness

I don’t ease into personal stories well.  This one, however, resonates at the time of year where we seem to have too much stuff … and too little gratitude. Also, this message is timely since we are all constantly looking to create a greater and more meaningful donation experience for our givers.


Saving the Planet, One NGO at a Time

In October, the United Nations released a dire report on climate change and its impacts. No matter where you live or work, you are witnessing the effects of the change in our climate. At home, we all do things to offset this rapidly advancing global crisis. We recycle. We turn down the thermostat or turn off the air conditioning. We carry cloth shopping bags. We bike when we can. But the issue is so overwhelming that it’s easy to feel like a sand crab being hit by a 50-foot tsunami. At the office, we may feel even more helpless, with no clear policy on how to instigate change.

I want to help you untangle the various ways to attack climate change and perhaps jump-start a conversation between you and your staff and board about how your organization can play a role to help address this global crisis.


Thoughtful Solutions for Reluctant Fundraising Board Members

If you've worked at (or with) a nonprofit, you've struggled with your board members at some point. We all have. It's normal! The relationship between nonprofits and their boards is that of checks and balances and strategy. Frustration happens.

One of the most common sources of frustration is getting board members involved in fundraising. Many—maybe even most—nonprofits expect their board members to support their fundraising efforts both by donating and by taking on an active role in finding and recruiting donors. Getting board members to donate is pretty straightforward, but getting them to actively raise money for you is another thing altogether.


That Coulda Gone Better: Three Fundraising Mistakes You Don't Have to Make

“Only he who has traveled the road knows where the holes are deep.” So goes the ancient Chinese proverb. And of course there’s loads of truth in it, especially when it comes to creative strategy for fundraising—a road with plenty of potholes to cause problems.


Learn Three Things from America’s Favorite Charities

A thousand donors were asked by Grey Matter Research to name their very favorite nonprofit. More than half of them named the same 20 organizations, and the top 5 favorites collected votes from more than one-third of all donors. With an average total income of $1.1 billion, America’s favorite 289 nonprofits are massive national and global operations.


Will Philanthropy Help End Poverty?

I grew up a poor black girl in a Washington, D.C., ghetto. It was the tumultuous time of the civil rights movement. Disheartened by the injustices of the day, I found hope in the message of a bumper sticker. It read: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” It dawned on me that I didn’t have to be a victim of my circumstances. I could be a solution and change things. Poor meant only that I had less wealth, not less worth. That simple message helped me realize I have value!

I’ve spent much of my life since serving organizations fighting poverty across America and struggling to be valued as a black woman able to contribute. I wish I could say that I see philanthropy bringing an end to poverty. But, despite trillions of dollars donated since the ’60s, poverty remains in full force. 


Navigating the Neutral Zone: What Happened During the In-Between Time in Our DEI Work

The neutral zone, as defined by William Bridges, is an in-between time. Bridges, a leading authority on change management, explains that transitions require letting go of what was, navigating a time of uncertainty in between, and accepting a new beginning. Think of a trapeze artist. In order to grab onto the new trapeze, the artist must first let go of the trapeze in her hands. The neutral zone is the time when the artist is flying from one trapeze to another.


See What Thanking Donors Can Do for Your Fundraising

So often, our fundraising tests look too narrowly at something we do. Here's a test that didn't fall into that habit. You can read it in a great study by the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Learning to Say Thank You (downloadable PDF).


How to Use Community Engagement to Reach Qualified Volunteers

Chances are you want to make a positive impression on the community that your organization serves. Your mission may positively impact the community in a variety of ways but how are you using community engagement to reach, retain, and engage volunteers? In the last decade it has become harder to entice people to volunteer.


Our Default Organizational Decision-Making Model Is Flawed. Here’s an Awesome Alternative!

Hi everyone, before we launch into today’s post, my friend Oz recorded my Guided Meditation for Nonprofit Professionals. Check out Oz’s soothing voice as he guides you to the Land of Sustainability in this free 12-minute relaxation exercise. “Breathe in and out […] Your desk is completely clutter-free and not a coffee-stained dumpster fire of chaos and broken promises.” (Original written meditation here)

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One of the things EDs and CEOs have noticed is that we get “decision fatigue,” and one way it manifests is in our frustration at having to make even small decisions when we’re at home.


Why the Biggest Ask Might Not Be the Best Idea

Once I had a job interview for a fundraising job. The VP of the fundraising department said with a glow in his eyes, “We just did a wealth screening of our donor list, and we have a billion dollars of potential.” I didn’t get the job, so I can’t say how much those donors gave. But I can guarantee it wasn’t a billion dollars. Not even close.


3 Steps to Progressing in Your Nonprofit Career

Do you ever feel stuck in your job?? Most of us have felt that way at one time or another, particularly if you’re working for a nonprofit. It can be frustrating to see other people around you being promoted, or to be overlooked for outside candidates when the time comes to hire for a higher-level position.

How can you move on up in the nonprofit world?


2019: The Year for Nonprofits to Innovate

Embrace Technology

Your nonprofit should embrace technology and use it as a power for innovation and good. The sphere of technology is unavoidable ... so don’t try to avoid it. Instead, there are many amazing interfaces that improve donor experiences. Let 2019 be the year where new technology helps keep donors engaged and reaches out to make new friends for your organization.