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

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: 10 Inspirational Fundraising Clichés

It all started when I recently read the famous quote:

Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

The quote is attributed to several people. I’m not sure why it struck a chord with me, but I immediately thought—that applies to fundraisers.


Design Therapy for the Purpose-Driven Organization

The value of brand design for nonprofits or foundations—when done right—is not just in the outcome but in the process. Design is the act of (re)imagining how we see and communicate ideas. It's an opportunity to challenge assumptions, change minds, and test the status quo.


Report Outlines Solutions for Closing Racial Gaps, Advancing Equity

A report from the Urban Institute calls on civic leaders, advocates, elected officials, and philanthropists to address the legacy of structural racism in the United States and advance racial equity by taking steps to close four large equity gaps between people of color and white people.


Can You Solicit the Same Donor 21 Times a Year with Success?

How often can you ask in a year without driving off donors? I needed to know for my new book, If Only You’d Known, You Would Have Raised So Much More.


Make It Social: How Charities Can Use Their Channels for Impact

We live in an age where 1 in 10 millennials would rather give up a finger than their smartphone; where one-third of marriages start out online; and where websites, social media, and apps account for £2.7 billion of annual donations in the UK alone. 

When writing our latest guide, Make It Social: Tips & Tricks for #SocialMedia Success, we surveyed 100 charities in the UK. We found that only 14 percent had integrated their social media usage into their overall fundraising. Yet 78 percent of these organizations claim to be posting either frequently (around three times a week) or very frequently (more than five times a week) on their channels. So clearly, there is a disconnect—something that we have found when working with many charities, nonprofits, and foundations on refining their digital presence. 


Is Your Advocacy Making a Difference?

If you run an advocacy campaign, you definitely have ideas about the ways it’s making progress. You can see the stumbling blocks, and you may be able to point to dramatic and obvious success. If you are documenting and reflecting on all this, you are also engaging in evaluation and learning—even if you don’t call it that! But along the way, chances are you have bumped up against these types of questions:


6 Things You Can Do to Close the Gender Gap in the Nonprofit Sector

It’s hard to believe that in 2019 we are still talking about closing the gender gap, but we are, and we must continue to talk about it until it’s closed for good.

In January 2019, AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) announced a new Women’s Mentoring program. The article begins with the sad statistic that women make up approximately 70 percent of the fundraising profession, yet they only hold 30 percent of senior-level fundraising positions.


30% of U.S. Households Made Disaster-Related Donations in 2017 and 2018

First comprehensive study of household giving for disaster aid uncovers patterns, preferences, and practices of individuals’ charitable giving in wake of costliest year for U.S. disasters

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), Candid, and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy announced the release of the first comprehensive study on household donations to disasters, the U.S. Household Disaster Giving in 2017 and 2018 Report. This study reveals new data on U.S. households’ disaster giving and answers many of the questions most often asked about patterns, preferences, and practices of individual charitable giving for disaster aid efforts. 


How to Think Like a Capital Campaign Consultant

Heading into a capital campaign? Then you’re probably going to need a capital campaign consultant. But perhaps not for the reasons you think you do.

Capital campaign consultants have one primary quality that, no matter how hard you try, you don’t have. They are outsiders!

You can’t be an outsider to your organization. As a staff person or board member, you’ll never have the kind of external credibility and political power that an outside expert will have.

That said, other than being an outside expert, you can do many things to move your campaign along just as well as—or even better than!—a consultant.


Maximize Your Time Connecting Offline

I love the internet. It’s a weird and wondrous place that’s made my life better. I’ve met some of my best friends on the internet. I found my career (including my job at Candid) on the internet. I’ve learned so much online, whether informally through blogs and media channels or in more structured ways through online trainings and on-demand courses. I’m also thrilled to know you’ve found our particular corner of the internet on Candid’s grantspace.org.


“Does This Board Member Spark Joy?” How to Tidy Your Organization Using the KonMari Method

Have you noticed how we in this sector tend to hoard stuff? There are several reasons for this. First, we are trained to be thrappy, which is a combination of “thrifty” and “scrappy,” to keep our “overhead” low. Second, because we are empathetic, even to inanimate objects, and just the thought of these poor gala program booklets and rickety chairs being abandoned makes us sad. And third, because we’re busy making the world better and stuff, OK?


Survey Finds College Students Divided Over Free Speech vs. Inclusivity

U.S. college students are divided over whether protecting free speech under the First Amendment is more important than promoting a more inclusive society, a report from College Pulse and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation finds.


New Research on Women’s Foundations and Funds

A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study, offers key insights about the organizational characteristics and funding priorities of these groups. The following excerpts from the executive summary present the report’s major findings.

Organizational Characteristics

The women’s foundations and funds included in this study all focus on funding women and girls, and they provide grants to organizations and programs rather than individuals. But these organizations are incredibly diverse in other key ways:


The Value of Structured Professional Development

I firmly believe that an effective leader never stops learning. When learning stops, stagnation begins, which is bad for the leader (be that person staff or board) or the organization he/she serves. But just how much does a leader get from the periodic webinar, networking opportunity, or conference? And how does multi-tasking behind the anonymity of the webinar or working through emails during presentations affect the value of the time we spend on professional development?


What Does It Takes to Be Happy at Work? FRIDA Tries to Answer through the Happiness Manifestx

As a young feminist-led fund, our internal politics reflect those of the broader young feminist movement, and as such, self-care has become a central point of discussion, organizational development, and advocacy at FRIDA. We talk about care all the time. Through online campaigns such as the Solidarity Storms; offline when we meet as staff, convene our advisors, grantees, and board; and when we talk to other funders and donors. But most often we find ourselves talking about it when we are edging towards exhaustion—otherwise known as burnout. Sometimes though, out of moments of hardship, beautiful things are born.


Boost Your Fundraising by Centering Your Audience in Your Content and Engagement Strategy

At the center of every major advertising campaign you’ve seen or have been impacted by over the last half-century has been audience archetypes or personas. An audience archetype strategy is ubiquitous across the business marketing and tech worlds, but almost nonexistent in nonprofit messaging and marketing strategy. Your target audience should be at the center of your content and engagement strategy, and creating audience archetypes is how you get there.


Fundraising Lessons from Freddie Mercury & Queen

Far reach from rockstar superstardom to fundraising glory? Not really! 

Watching Bohemian Rhapsody, I couldn’t help but notice a few standout truths and values from their rise to fame. They apply as much to hardworking fundraisers, dedicated to making the world a better place, as to anyone else reaching for success.


Three Tips to Help You File a More Complete Form 990-Series Return

A tax-exempt organization using the calendar-year as its tax year must file a Form 990-series return by May 15th, unless it has filed Form 8868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File an Exempt Organization Return.

The IRS suggests organizations consider these three tips to help ensure a complete return and reduce the chances we’ll send your return back or need to request additional information:


The Donor Pyramid and Marketing Funnel Have Changed

Fundraisers used to focus on the pyramid.

Bring small donors in at the bottom. Move ’em up, incrementally, to the top. What happened was the donors at the bottom didn’t get much attention, leading to a situation where today 79 percent of first-time donors flow right out of your base. In other words, the pyramid’s base is more like a river than a solid block of bricks. Not very strong. A pretty wobbly foundation on which to base the life of your nonprofit.


The Soft Underbelly of Nonprofit Collaboration

It seems like everybody is talking about how important is for organizations to work together. Foundations, who are seeing a growing demand for their resources but want to see a greater impact for their donations, encourage organizations to work collaboratively around key issue areas, geography, and target groups. Elected officials like to see stakeholders come together to tackle problems that plague the community. After all, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and probably several villages to save the world. Organizations work collaboratively to share the workload; strengthen organizational capacity; share lessons learned; and create synergies around new and existing programs.


Program Evaluation That Works

When you’re evaluating your nonprofit programs, you need not just good data, but data that is relevant to your success.


  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.