GuideStar Blog

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider Holding a Charity Auction

Most nonprofits understand the basic benefits of holding fundraising events, but some don’t realize the added benefits of holding specific kinds of events, such as charity auctions.


The Impact of the Government Shutdown on the Flow of Nonprofit Data, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece on the impact of the government shutdown on the flow of nonprofit data. In that piece I suggested it would be unlikely that the IRS would release a new Exempt Organization Business Master File (BMF) on schedule in February.


4 Strategies to Overcome Fear of Fundraising

Most people are deathly afraid of fundraising. They’d rather undergo root canal.

Fear of fundraising comes from four basic places in my experience:

  1. Fear of begging for money.
  2. Fear of looking stupid.
  3. Fear of rejection.
  4. Fear of public speaking.

Let’s address these one by one.


How to Spot Cultural Fit in Nonprofit Leadership Candidates

Company culture is defined by strongly held and widely shared beliefs that organizations support through their strategy and structure. As any executive search consultant will tell you, cultural fit is a critical factor in hiring.

While this is true for every organization, despite its tax code, it is incredibly important for not-for-profit organizations. This is because the executive must be able to passionately speak about the mission internally, to keep everyone working toward the common goal, but also to represent the organization externally, creating strong, committed relationships within the community.


Show Me the Love: Creative Ways to Steward Your Donors

As development professionals, we often find ourselves laser-focused on closing gifts to reach our revenue goals. On average, gift officers spend more than three-quarters of their time identifying, cultivating, and soliciting new leads. While it is important to focus on actions that drive revenue, stewarding donors once the gift is secured helps maintain a strong and active donor pool.

It is important to show donors just how special, valued, and appreciated they are. Investing in stewardship techniques and developing strong relationships has been proven to lead to more frequent and larger gifts. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share some ways to show your donors the love. From basic best practices to customized approaches, below are some tips to activate your donor base and maximize revenue through stewardship.


What Are “Major Gifts”—and Where Do I Find Them?

When talking with potential clients, I often ask the following questions: “What do you consider a major gift? How many donors contribute at that level?”

The phrase “major gift” perplexes some people. If needed, I might rephrase as follows:

  • What do you consider a big gift from an individual donor?

  • If you skimmed off the top 10 percent of your donors, based on the size of their contributions, what amounts are they giving?

  • When you open the mail (or review your list of online donations), what size gift inspires you to do your happy dance?


How Funder Fragility Is Similar to White Fragility and What Funders Can Do about It

At a group convening I attended a while back, we discussed some of the challenges facing leaders of color in the sector, including how 90% of funding still go to white-led organizations, how funders still use a very white lens in what is considered good data and effective programs, how the smallest and most burdensome grants are often the only ones accessible to marginalized-communities-led organizations, how white foundation boards are, the general lack of trust foundations have for nonprofits, and how progressive foundations spend endless amounts of time intellectualizing, which disproportionately harms marginalized communities because they cannot afford to wait months or years for funding decisions.


Retain More Online Donors with These 5 Fundraising Strategies

Online fundraising has become one of the most prominent trends in the nonprofit world. As Millennial and Gen Z donors make up a larger percentage of donors, nonprofits have found that they need to adjust their fundraising strategies to be more accommodating to this new audience.


Bullet Lists Can Drain the Life from Your Fundraising—or Pump Up the Energy—Here's How

Bullet points are normally a helpful tool for making what youve written more readable.

When you have several similar points you need to make, a bulleted list can: 

  • Introduce visual variety, which increases readability.
  • Turn what would have been a long paragraph into an easily scannable entry point.
  • Organize your thinking, thus making it more clear.
  • Lower the reading level of your copy. 

All good.

But let me show you a type of bulleted list that hurts fundraising results:


Data Is Not Wisdom

Photo by Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

In 1854 John Snow correctly identified the cause of a cholera outbreak in London. It was a contaminated water pump. He then struggled, and eventually succeeded, in persuading the city authorities to take the handle off the pump. It was a historic achievement in the history of public health. The same year, England's august Cholera Inquiry Commission published a 629-page report on the causes of cholera. Their conclusion: the culprit was "bad air"—the noxious emissions that were associated with poor neighborhoods. They had 629 pages of data, and it lead them to a wrong conclusion.


How We Became Candid and What It Means for You

We hope you saw yesterday’s announcement that Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to create a new nonprofit named Candid. (If not, surprise!) Here’s a quick summary:


Facing the Future Together

The social sector is big. It’s essential. It’s complex. For a combined 85 years, Foundation Center and GuideStar have helped people make sense of that complexity.

But the world faces growing challenges: polarization, climate change, technological revolution, and poverty and inequality. Foundation Center and GuideStar must do more to support the social sector.

That’s why we are combining our talent, technology, data, and leadership to become a new organization, Candid.


Why Smaller Donations Are One of 2019’s Biggest Online Fundraising Trends

The Internet is becoming an ever-more central part of our everyday lives, and raising money is no exception to that rule. With the Baby Boomer generation aging, Millennials, and members of Generation Z will soon make up the majority of donors. Failing to adapt to these new groups by not making smart use of online fundraising platforms is a path to financial hardship for even the most deserving organization. 


Four Things Your Nonprofit’s Board of Directors Should Do to Start Out the New Year by Embracing Best Practices

It never fails. As soon as the iconic glittery New Year’s ball makes its descent in Times Square and the calendar turns to January nonprofit boards review their list of goals for the new year and begin to tackle tasks like updating woefully out-of-date bylaws and tightening up conflict of interest policies. Boards look at ways that they can ensure legal requirements are followed by their organization and that their next audit will come back squeaky clean. But there is more to running an ethical, accountable, and transparent nonprofit than just legal and accounting requirements. Boards of directors can set the tone for the organization by conducting regular reviews of core governing and operating policies and procedures.