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!

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Recent Posts by rootcauseorg:

Nonprofits: Get Ready for Charity Navigator 3.0

One year ago, Charity Navigator announced its plans to incorporate a third dimension into its rating system as part of CN 3.0. In 2016 Results Reporting will accompany Charity Navigator’s two other dimensions: Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency.

Performance Insights: If It Matters, It Can Be Measured

If you’re working to bring about big systems change, how will you know you’re getting anywhere? For organizations working to engage citizens in democratic life, can success really be measured? Is it worth the time and cost of trying to determine an organization’s impact when the work is structured around a series of issue campaigns?

Performance Insights: Donors Want Easy Access to Nonprofit Results


Root Cause and the Highland Street Foundation Invest in Massachusetts

Our veterans are broadly viewed as heroes and role models, but our admiration for their service has not translated into a national agenda to serve our veterans. Many lack access to gainful employment, vocational training, disability services, and support for their families. Mental health issues are widespread, and in 2010, 22 veterans committed suicide every day.
The lack of public resources directed to veterans should be a source of national shame, but the crisis provides foundations and social impact investors with a unique opportunity to build solutions from the ground up by investing in nonprofit innovators working to give veterans comprehensive support.

Root Cause’s Overhead Myth Response

We applaud the campaign by BBB [Wise Giving Alliance], GuideStar, and Charity Navigator to raise awareness about the lack of correlation between a nonprofit’s level of overhead and its performance. The Overhead Myth letter encourages donors to invest in nonprofits based on their results, not based on how lean they are. Root Cause completely agrees with this and was founded 10 years ago with the vision that resources allocated to nonprofits based on results will accelerate social progress. However, the question remains, where do we find the kind of information we need in order to not have to rely on overhead as the proxy for performance?

Colette Stanzler

According to research conducted recently, donors are interested in indicators beyond financials; specifically on better understanding a nonprofit’s impact. Donors are also interested in seeing peer programs compared on standard indicators. However, the research further indicated that while information about financials is easily accessible, information about program performance, particularly at a comparative level, does not seem to exist for the average donor. Why isn’t information about results as easily attainable and standardized as the 990 or audited financials?

Over the past few years, Root Cause has developed a methodology to help move nonprofits to higher levels of performance and to share that information with donors. This work has culminated in the launch of Peer Performance Exchanges for different social issues. We believe that nonprofits should be able to provide, and funders should be able to request, information about program performance (or results) as regularly as they provide or request financial information.

We are currently developing three Exchanges: Youth Career Development, College Access and Success, and Healthy Aging. The Exchanges bring together nonprofits within these fields that have clear and measureable outcomes to receive a third-party independent analysis, including benchmarking, and capacity-building services. The independent analysis is at the core—providing nonprofit programs with an understanding of how they compare to their peers on over 100 indicators of organizational health (including financial stability) and program performance in their field. We also produce a summary report of the analysis, appropriately named the Transparency Report, for programs to share with key funders as a validation of their program and commitment to measurement and accountability.

We are excited that the key donor platforms where donors look for information to make confident giving decisions are focused beyond financials and on performance. And we believe that our work in providing independent analysis for programs through the Peer Performance Exchange will provide donors with the more results-oriented, comparative information they are seeking.

To learn more about Peer Performance Exchange, contact Colette at 617.649.1538 or

As the Director of Social Impact Research, Colette provides strategic leadership, oversight of SIR’s core research process including methodology refinement and product development, client management on customized research projects, and actively participates in the broader development of the social impact market through collaboration and partnerships with other players in the market. From her experience in the business sector, specifically financial services, Colette brings an understanding of capital markets, investor expectations, and how data is used to inform investment decisions to apply to SIR’s research and analysis in the social impact marketplace. While she has experience in both product development and analysis from previous experience in the business sector, she has been involved with nonprofits most of her life and brings perspective to our process from being a volunteer, consultant, advisor, board member, and social impact investor. With the SIR team, Colette hopes to build a significant library of social issue research that enables donors to make more informed giving decisions and results in more resources being allocated to high performers. This a cross-post of her article on the Overhead Myth Blog and the Root Cause Blog.

Building a Solid Fundraising Plan

The following is a cross-post by Stephen Pratt, Root Cause's director of financial sustainability. You can read the original post here.

Doing Better: Accelerating the Performance and Visibility of College Access and Success Programs

The following is a cross-post by Anne Radday, Senior Manager of Research, Social Impact Research at Root Cause. You can read the original post on the Root Cause blog here.

Nine Nonprofits Join the Next Wave of Performance Measurement: Root Cause's Peer Performance Exchange

The following is a post by Anne Radday, Senior Manager of Research, Social Impact Research at Root Cause.

Accelerating Black Male Achievement

The following post is by Zeina Fayyaz, Program Manager, Social Innovation Forum & Social Innovation Accelerator at Root Cause.

The Next Wave of Performance Measurement: Peer Performance Exchange for Youth Career Development Organizations

The following is a guest post by Anne Radday, Senior Manager of Research, Social Impact Research, at Root Cause, a GuideStar expert partner.