Below is a follow-up by Erinn Andrews, GuideStar's Senior Director of Nonprofit Strategy, to a handful of questions submitted by participants during our June 25th, 2014 GuideStar Exchange Demonstration Webinar. To view the presentation or listen to the recording of the Webinar, please check here.
Q: Can you discuss in more detail the differences be Silver and Gold requirements? What seems to be the most difficult requirements to achieve?
The Bronze level can be seen as qualitative organizational data: organization’s address, contact information, mission statement, geographic areas served, leader’s information, board chair’s information, and the names of the programs you operate. The Silver level gets at quantitative organizational data: fiscal year, revenue sources, expenses sources, and assets and liabilities—all similar to what’s collected in the Form 990. The Gold level gets at qualitative programmatic data, specifically asked via the Charting Impact questions: What is your organization aiming to accomplish? What are your strategies for making this happen? What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this? How will your organization know if you are making progress? And what have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
Generally speaking, organizations can relatively easily complete the necessary requirements for the Bronze and Silver levels, but often take more time and effort to complete the Gold level. The Charting Impact questions require thought, alignment around a strategic focus, clarity on goals, measurement systems for tracking progress, and the ability to coherently and concisely answer a set of deceptively simple questions. We believe any size or type of organization can answer these questions, but not all may have the strategic thinking, bandwidth, clarity of vision, and leadership to thoughtfully answer them at this time. We hope by providing additional resources about Charting Impact, all organizations can increase their capacity to answer these questions.
Q: Was the Gold level created at the same time that the Charting Impact feature was implemented? How many nonprofits have achieved the Gold level?
Charting Impact was developed a number of years ago through a partnership with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Independent Sector, and GuideStar. The Gold level of the GuideStar Exchange, launched last June 2013 was conceived of with the Charting Impact questions in mind. We wanted a way to capture impact/effectiveness data—directly reported from nonprofits—something that donors and institutional funders have been asking for, for a long time now. The Charting Impact questions met that need perfectly as the questions were developed in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders: funders, nonprofit professionals, and many other experts within the philanthropic sector. This group was able to develop what we feel really defines the standard for self-reported impact evaluation questions for nonprofits. As of June 27, there were 3,711 organizations that had reached the Gold level, up from just 55 completed Charting Impact reports one year ago.
Q: We are a performing arts college, and are thus considered arts and education. This can present problems when, for example, we have to choose between the 30 questions for education versus 30 questions for arts organizations for the new GuideStar Exchange Platinum level. How is this issue getting resolved?
This is an excellent point and something we’re still working out. This is also a great example of how we will need to test the GuideStar Exchange Platinum well before we launch anything. I could imagine us giving nonprofits the option to select up to three NTEE-kinds of codes and then display a set of standardized impact metrics based on all of those selections. Hopefully that would give a nonprofit, like yours, enough options to choose from. If you’d like to help us with user testing, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Q: If a community foundation is sending our updated profile to GuideStar, do I still need to go in every two years to do additional updating and keep our profile status current?
Generally speaking, no, if you’re working with a community foundation that’s part of our DonorEdge learning community, your community foundation manages your profile and will contact you when it’s time to update. GuideStar automatically gets those updates from the community foundation platforms, so you don’t need to worry about coming into the GuideStar Exchange separately. However, I will add that not all of the DonorEdge learning community foundations have incorporated the Charting Impact questions, so if you wish to reach the Gold level, you may need to come into the GuideStar Exchange directly to answer those questions and you will have to keep those answers current at least every two years.
Q: In our community we enter data through our community foundation Give Richmond, and they upload information to GuideStar. if we put information into Guidestar, does that information go back and forth to Give Richmond?
Currently, information updated in a GuideStar Exchange profile does not flow back into a Give Richmond portrait. GuideStar is in the process of more closely linking those two databases so that GuideStar Exchange updates are reflected in DonorEdge sites like GiveRichmond.guidestar.org. The initial scheduled enhancement along these lines is related to digitized financial data from organizations’ 990s, with address and other common data planned after that.
Q: Are there new features being asked for by donors? What is the driver for all the new information being requested for board members, etc?
The addition of the Charting Impact questions was driven largely by institutional funder and individual donor interest. The research in the Money for Good II study showed that these types of groups were interested in seeing impact/effectiveness information about nonprofits before making a decision to donate. The other data fields we’ve recently added, around board governance and leadership, were driven by a trend we saw with a number of institutional funders being interested in these questions. With our new Simplify initiative (where we’re building the GuideStar Exchange to be a central repository for data questions that are asked in a grant application,) we’re trying to include the fields that a majority of funders are interested in. The data fields we’ll be adding in the coming months (around number of employees, funding needs, and diversity) will fall under this category as well.
Q: Is there any reporting available or monitoring that indicates who is viewing our profile? (i.e. reports we can generate to see who is looking into our foundation)
No, I’m afraid we don’t have that level of granularity at this time. We are in the process of undergoing a major website overhaul and rethinking the way we engage different visitors to our website. It’s possible we will have more of this data in the future. We’re considering adding a functionality that would allow your organization to, in the very least, get a sense of how many visitors you’ve had to your page on GuideStar. Stay tuned!
Q: I'm curious about how I can see the managers that have been assigned. I suspect some are out of date, but I haven't been able to figure out how to view a list.
Please do update this list! This is one of the main ways we communicate with your organization, so it’s really important to have current information in our system. Once you’re logged into GuideStar, go to: http://www.guidestar.org/ManageNonprofitReports.aspx and click on the “Assign Managers” link next to your organization’s name. There you will see a full list of the current managers. There you can add and remove managers.
Q: When turning on the donation button, how is an organization informed of those gifts? In real time by email? Or, do we have to log-on to find out we've gotten donations?
For the GuideStar donate button, the NPO should register at GuideStar; they will be to access the “Donation Report” through the GuideStar Exchange. The NPO will also receive a notice with the check when the donation is processed. The same process occurs with our partner sites, JustGive and Network for Good.
Q: How does an organization get paid with the donation button? EFT? Check?
Donations are currently processed by check. Checks are processed the first week of each month for the previous month’s donations. EFT is currently not available for the GuideStar donate button but is available with JustGive and Network for good.
Q: How do you turn on the donation button in your GuideStar exchange profile?
The donate button is turned on or off through the GuideStar Exchange Form on the “Programs Terms” page.
Have a question that we didn't cover? Please leave it in the comments below!
Erinn Andrews is the Senior Director of Nonprofit Strategy managing GuideStar’s initiatives to carry out GuideStar’s mission through nonprofit data collection, research, and donor education, including the GuideStar Exchange, TakeAction, and Philanthropedia. Prior to joining GuideStar, Erinn was Philanthropedia’s first and only Chief Operating Officer. In that capacity, she developed Philanthropedia’s methodology, ran all research efforts, and streamlined the research process to produce a scalable product. Erinn joined the GuideStar team when Philanthropedia was acquired in 2011.
Erinn earned her Master of Arts in Education from Stanford University’s School of Education and her Bachelor of Arts in History with honors from Stanford University. Prior to graduate school, Erinn worked in the higher education field, most recently in the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University as the Assistant Director where she managed more than 70 international territories, reading, evaluating, and supporting recommendations on thousands of freshman and transfer applications.