How much effort should an organization expend on documenting its good work for prospective donors? That was the question on the minds of participants at an interesting conference held in May by America’s Charities on the campus of Georgetown University. Under the new leadership of energetic Steve Delfin, the conference was an all day analysis of what it will take to increase workplace charitable giving. The story for affiliates of America’s Charities is that giving has continued to increase, but with a trend towards larger gifts from fewer contributors. Changing demographics and the impending retirement of baby boomers were key concerns as well.
I was there to participate in a panel with Art Taylor of BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Ken Berger from Charity Navigator. The session was billed as an opportunity to learn more about how to deal with charity evaluators and in part a challenge to their methods and conclusions. Art gave a deliberate summary of the exhaustive BBB approach to judging a charity. Ken acknowledged that the current Charity Navigator process is of limited value by focusing solely on finances, but outlined a plan to overhaul its rating system that will take several years to accomplish.
Aside from being judged, another concern on the minds of the organizations in attendance at the conference was one that applies directly to GuideStar: the time and effort that organizations spend on filling out the same information for multiple review organizations. Here GuideStar can be of particular help to over-worked charity officials. The GuideStar Exchange program is designed to be a comprehensive summary of an organization’s work: mission, programs, finances, board and management. Plus videos and other promotional materials can be added to help tell the organization’s story. And here’s where it really gets good: after posting that information on GuideStar, where it is seen by millions of people, we share your information with over 50 other sites – from community foundations, to commercial donor-advised funds, to giving portals like Network for Good, and many more all using GuideStar data. Last year, those partner sites using our data was seen by more than 5 million users and processed more than $2 billion in donations. This is an example leveraging at its best.
In today’s world, being a high-performing organization requires a commitment to transparency and accountability. Donors need regular communication on what you are doing and how you are doing in achieving your goals. It’s part of doing business. Not only do an organization’s stakeholders need to know, so do its leaders and staff in order to keep improving the organization. Will this require investments in time and people? Absolutely. Count on it. Can you do it smarter? Absolutely. Start by checking out the GuideStar Exchange: http://www2.guidestar.org/rxg/update-nonprofit-report/about-the-guidestar-exchange.aspx.
The preceding is a guest post by Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.