I’m often asked what it is that I do for a living. That’s nothing unusual. We all get this question at dinner parties and social occasions.
I say that “I work for a national nonprofit organization called GuideStar.”
I pause to see if there is any sense of recognition. Then I continue. ”We are the trusted source of information on nonprofit organizations in the United States so that people like you can learn more about their missions, the efficiency of their operations and the effectiveness of their programs.”
“We hope,” I go on trying to wrap it up ”that our information will help professional philanthropists to work smarter and will inspire ordinary people to give or volunteer their time to help make the world a better place.”
I’ve been to the communications trainings (a recent one sponsored by The Hewlett Foundation.). And I know that I have to capture interest in three sentences or less. Say it clearly. Say it concisely. Spark interest. Show passion. Be real. (How did I do Rich?)
So that’s GuideStar’s one BIG IDEA — sharing information about nonprofits will inspire people to action to make the world a better place.
We started The Trust Blog to be a conversation with people who care about making the world a better place. There are many great blogs on many aspects of nonprofit practice. Reading them has inspired me and my colleagues at GuideStar to get in the game in a way that it authentic and related to our work.
Back to my dinner party conversation. Often when I say the name “GuideStar” to a fellow colleague in the nonprofit world, there is a flash of recognition.
Some think “Form 990″ when they hear “GuideStar.” Yes. But we aspire to be a more comprehensive source of nonprofit information than a place to find a government report. We are growing the number of data sources to provide a richer, fuller picture. And we are more about tools and services to turn information into knowledge. And arm people with knowledge to take action to make social change.
Some think star ratings, confusing our work with another group. ”No, that’s not what we do.” But so it goes. Confusion with Charity Navigator occurs.
More often than not, people I associate with have never heard of GuideStar. But they connect with the idea that collectively we have the power to make the world a better place. Many are thinking about their lives and aspire to more than material success. They want a life with purpose. They want significance in their life and in their work. (I’m currently reading an interesting book on this very topic, With Purpose, by Ken Dychtwald. Check it out.)
The elevator line that I am honing aims at the aspirational direction of our work. The day to day reality shows us the gaps between Denise ~*’s Pour vision and our reality. But we aim for progress and do the very best we can to get better at what we do.
Being a trusted source of information about civil society organizations. Encouraging others to take action to make the world a better place. It’s what gets me out of bed and off to do a good days work.