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

Best Practices for Nonprofits Requesting Corporate Funding

Corporate sponsorship is an effective strategy for fundraising. In 2018 alone, corporate sponsorship generated a record $24.8 billion. Nonprofit professionals, however, sometimes hesitate to seek corporate funding.

Much of this aversion stems from unfamiliarity with the process. If you think corporate sponsorship might be a good fit for your organization but don’t know where to start, consider these five best practices.


The ROI of Research: 4 Questions Nonprofits Need to Answer (And Why Research Is Worth It)

Typically, engagements with my clients in the nonprofit sector follow a similar pattern. I recommend some sort of formative research at the beginning in order to inform the messages, strategies, and tactics we’ll use to help them reach their goals. Then I’ll suggest evaluative research during and after the campaign to measure our results. Invariably, clients seize on the evaluation metrics; they want to know that the time and money they spend on strategic communications is actually giving them a return on their investment. But too often, clients pass on conducting message testing, in-depth-interviews with stakeholders, polling, and focus groups up front, thinking that research is too expensive and unnecessary because they already know their audiences and how to reach them.


New Research on Catholic Fundraising Foundations

A new report released by Wilmington Trust, Catholic Foundations Continue to Advance in the United States: An Update on the Catholic Foundation Marketplace, reviews how Catholic foundations have continued to grow quickly over the past few years as a result of their holistic approach to endowment growth. Many of these Catholic foundations have focused on both their fundraising and endowment management to boost their asset growth levels. Wilmington Trust stresses the important of building a strategic endowment plan for all nonprofits.


The Benefits of Volunteer Tracking and Management

One challenge that many nonprofits face today is the ability to capture and truly understand the time supporters are providing their organization. According to an IRS study, 85 percent of U.S. charities have little to no internal staff. Most organizations were run by volunteers in 2018. Nonprofits that do not have a formal process for keeping track of volunteer hours, measuring the impact of volunteer time, and optimizing their program based on data are missing out on a substantial opportunity.


Inside the Mind of a Board Candidate: Seven Questions for Which You Need Ready Answers

Anyone you hope to recruit to your board has questions, often unspoken, that you need to answer if you want their meaningful commitment. I’ll focus on seven such questions here. In my book, The Ultimate Board Member’s Book, you’ll find others, as well as the answers board candidates find most satisfying.


How Your Donors Can Help You

Some of the smartest things I do are accidents.

I was planning a trip to visit current and potential donors. I sent out the dates that I was available. Two of the people on the list—a current donor (we’ll call him Carl) and a potential donor (we’ll call him Phillip)—responded at the same time. They both said, “I can meet you at 10:00 on Thursday.”

Rather than re-negotiate the calendar with either of them, I asked each of them if they would be willing to meet together.


What Organizations Need To Know About Leadership Transition

Effectively passing the baton to new leaders within an organization can be easy for some, but many others find it difficult to train those that will carry out the work of their beloved group. Organizations face the challenges of ensuring important factors such as annual tax filing deadlines, accurate recordkeeping, and maintaining tax-exempt status don’t fall behind during each transition of leadership.


First Data Analysis of the Chicagoland Dance Sector Since 2002 Reveals Growth and Challenges

A new report, Mapping the Dance Landscape in Chicagoland, released today by Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar), Sustain Arts, and See Chicago Dance demonstrates a 97 percent increase in the number of dance studios and schools and a 23 percent increase in the number of dance-makers from 2002 to 2016. The study revisits the seminal Dance/USA research published in 2002 and synthesizes data about dance organizations, funding, and participation.


Giving Donors and Funders Context for Your Platinum Metrics

We recently launched our 2019 Seals of Transparency on GuideStar. This year, we’ve added new features to the Platinum Seal to help donors and funders better understand the metrics shared by nonprofits. (To learn more about the different Seals and where Platinum fits in, see this recent post by Candid’s Eva Nico.)


Reasons for Having—and NOT Having—a Capital Campaign

Lots of board members and even staff members have misguided notions of why organizations should have a capital campaign. Here is the main reason you should have a campaign, and three reasons why you should not.


Finding the Right Nonprofit Employer or Volunteer Opportunity

Whether it’s as an employee or a volunteer, working for a nonprofit can be rewarding in many ways. But how do you sift through the thousands of nonprofits that cover hundreds of cause areas to find the right fit for you? Though there are many search engines and employment websites out there, GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles are a great way to get to know the organizations you’re thinking of working with.


2019 Seals of Transparency Are Here!

You may have heard that GuideStar and Foundation Center have joined forces. Now that weve become Candid, our commitment to promoting transparency is stronger than ever.


2019 Fundraising Trends—And How to Take Advantage of Them

I view January and February as a test run of sorts, before we really embark on a new year and new resolutions. This may feel especially true as we’re still figuring out what happened in 2018. Last year we saw lower year-end fundraising results. We saw a decline in the number of donors who give in the lower to middle end of the giving range. And whether those developments have anything to do with changes to the tax law remains a question.


How to Make the Most of Spring Break Volunteers

Spring break is upon us and, for many college students, that means time off to relax with friends or to visit with family. But it’s also a great time to pad their résumés and give back to their communities. Believe it or not, many students actually engage in “alternative spring breaks,” holidays spent volunteering and supporting causes that are important to them. Sometimes, this is an extended trip. Other times, it may simply be a few hours donated at a local food bank or animal shelter. However their alternative spring break looks, these students are ideal volunteers for nonprofits looking to add to their volunteer rosters.


8 Tips to Enhance Your Fundraising and Donor Relationships

All of a nonprofit’s actions are interconnected. If you do something to enhance your fundraising, that action is likely to affect another one of your strategies as well. Therefore, make sure you’re thinking through how one decision will affect each and every one of your strategies.


How Social Norms Affect Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes

From wearing pink to hosting parties or posting on social media, people everywhere are celebrating #InternationalWomensDay. Social movements like this can inspire people to give to related causes and increase charitable contributions to them. A recent report by the Woman’s Philanthropy Institute presents insights into how the giving behaviors of others, as defined by social norms, influence donation behavior, focusing on the particular challenges that women-focused organizations face in courting male donors.


The Iditarod of Capital Campaigns: Multi-Use Projects

I had the opportunity to meet with a woman who has completed the Iditarod several times. She’s amazing, and she told me her biggest challenge wasn’t the weather or the long hours or the isolation. It was keeping her team of dogs happy by ensuring that each was fed, rested, and doing what he or she loved, whether that was breaking trail, being calm or enthusiastic, or pulling. When each dog is given the opportunity to do what it loves in a team environment, the race goes more smoothly.

Multi-use campaigns are similar to the world-famous sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. They cannot be completed, much less won, by anything less than a team that understands and values individual strengths.


Strategic Partnerships: An Avenue to Success

More and more often we are seeing a number of philanthropists coming together to address a specific problem, for example this announcement from Blue Meridian Partners:


Candid In Your Community

As you may have already heard, Foundation Center joined forces with GuideStar to become Candid! Please read our press release for more context on the combining of our two organizations.


5 Technology Tips for a Better Fundraising Strategy

Hands typing on a laptop with the title 5 Technology Tips for a Better Fundraising Strategy superimposed on the image

Technology is an important part of any nonprofit’s overall strategy for engaging and retaining donors, but have you ever considered enhancing your existing fundraising strategies with technology?

There are so many things that go into your fundraising strategy: donor preferences, communication and outreach tactics, campaign and event planning, and more. And it can be hard to make sure that all the information that you collect during your fundraising campaigns gets put to good use later!

We thought long and hard about our favorite fundraising technology best practices and strategies, and have collected the best ones for you here:


3 Things You Should Not Do When Writing About Your Nonprofit

The importance of storytelling is undeniable. For a brand that wants more exposure, using storytelling in marketing is a must. But how can nonprofits benefit from storytelling, and does it work any differently for them?


  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.