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

Tips for Creating Your Nonprofit's Value Proposition

Most people are familiar with value propositions, even if they are unsure exactly what value proposition are. A value proposition is a short description of what a company provides for its customers in exchange for their financial support. If you’ve ever purchased a product, paid for a service, or donated to a nonprofit, you likely did so because you accepted (perhaps subconsciously) its value proposition.


Congratulations to the Winners of the Nonprofit Summer Sprint

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Nonprofit Summer Sprint! We’d like to take a moment to congratulate the organization(s) that won each prize.

We’ve rewarded four nonprofits that advanced at least one Seal of Transparency level and five organizations that earned or held a 2019 Platinum Seal between June 19 and 28.

Note: all winners were selected at random from the full list of participants in their events.


Six Things Your Board Needs to Know about Fundraising

If your board struggles with fundraising, you’re not alone.

In my work supporting nonprofit organizations, the number one request—by far—is board fundraising training. The demand seems endless.

The following tips, adapted from my book How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, provide a quick introduction to the whys and hows of boards and fundraising. Perhaps you’ll want to share with your leadership and committees.


Changing the Way Candid Serves You

Announcing Foundation Center and GuideStar had joined forces was just the beginning—now the real work of being Candid has started. We're busy combining operations on a number of fronts, and starting up new and exciting projects, too. I mentioned one of our most important initiatives in a previous post: the transition from our four regional library centers to our 400+ Funding Information Network (FIN) partner locations. We've received some thoughtful questions about what this evolution might mean for you.


How to Prepare for Preparing Your 990

Whether you prepare your own Form 990 or outsource it, you can make the process less painful by following some simple steps and gathering certain information well before prep begins. Having a plan will save you time and help expedite the process.


Will Your Capital Campaign Cannibalize Your Annual Fund?

Let’s talk about the most common worry board members have when they are considering a capital campaign: that the capital campaign will cannibalize their fundraising for operations.


Grantmaking for Human Rights Efforts Totaled $2.8 Billion in 2016

Foundation funding in support of global human rights initiatives totaled $2.8 billion in 2016, up from $2.4 billion in 2015, a report from Candid (formerly Foundation Center) and the Human Rights Funders Network finds.


Gaining a Say: Lifting Up Philanthropy’s Unheard Voices

For many, “philanthropy”—both the word and the field—conjures up images of elitism. Questions are proliferating about philanthropy’s power dynamics and whether billionaires benefit more than average citizens do: for example, Anand Giridharadas in Winners Take All, Rob Reich in Just Giving, and Edgar Villanueva in Decolonizing Wealth.

As good as those published works may be, the discussion about them reinforces the elitism that they decry. Even worse, while these book are often described as a new wave of criticism, that is hardly the case: There have long been valid critiques of philanthropy, especially from community organizers, grassroots nonprofits, and innovative social entrepreneurs.


Where Have all the Donors Gone?

Trends can be interesting.

And certain trends require you to pay real attention. To adapt to changes in the world in ways you can. Ways within your control. Ways that keep you current, relevant and in the game.

The digital revolution is one such trend. It’s a revolution in the way people communicate. Probably bigger even than the printing press. You’ve got to be online as well as offline. It’s a good idea to be a presence across multiple channels if you want to be seen and heard. And if you’re still doing outbound vs. inbound marketing, you’re probably not getting the engagement you need to move folks to passionate investment.

The movement toward digital is a trend where adaptation is within your control. You can take your concerns and turn them into positive action that will definitely move the needle in your favor.


4 Steps to Launching a Team of Passionate Messengers

You face an uphill battle to recruit members and retain them at ever higher and more effective levels of engagement, as well as to maximize your organization’s impact. There's nothing more important than these two goals.


Electronic Filing of Nonprofit Tax Returns Signed Into Law

President Trump has signed the final version of a bill requiring the electronic filing of nonprofit tax returns and the release of those forms to the public free of charge in a searchable, machine-readable format.


Hospice Care for Nonprofits, Part 2: The Board’s Role

Because not every group is designed to last forever, I recently shared a post about end-of-life care for nonprofit organizations.


New Jersey Pushes Back against IRS Rollback of Donor Disclosure Requirements for Nonprofit Organizations

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has announced that certain nonprofit organizations must disclose donors who have contributed $5,000 or more in a tax year, as part of annual reports due to the state. Although styled as "charitable" registration requirements, the law also applies to social welfare organizations that are no longer required to provide donor information to the IRS.


Soros, Koch Partner to Launch Foreign Policy Think Tank

Two mega-philanthropists at opposite ends of the political spectrum—George Soros and Charles Koch—have teamed up to launch a think tank focused on shifting U.S. foreign policy away from "forever war," the Boston Globe reports.


Asking Questions as a Powerful Way to Learn

Whether in the realm of business, journalism, relationships, or of course in our nonprofit and social sector, the act of “questioning” can be powerful. A piece in the Harvard Business Review last year noted, “Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. And it can mitigate business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards.”


10 Reasons Being an Executive Director Is Still Awesome

Hi everyone, this blog may have more typos than normal because it is (was) Father’s Day, and instead of spending it writing and “editing,” I hung out with my kids. They are in bed now, so I can finish this post. ...


Breaking #BadNonprofitHabits: Unrealistic Overhead Ratios

A few days ago, nonprofit leader, visionary, and lover of unicorns, Vu Le, tweeted the message below about one of the top #badnonprofithabits: advertising how high a percentage of a donation goes “directly to helping the individuals we serve.” Vu pointedly pleaded, “Y’all, please stop putting stuff like this on your website and then complain about how people don’t fund core support like rent and utilities.” He is 100 percent correct!