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GuideStar Blog

How Nonprofits Can Benefit From and Promote Stakeholder Reviews

Have you noticed that there are now reviews of nonprofits on GuideStar? These reviews are provided by GreatNonprofits and appear on both the GuideStar and GreatNonprofits Web sites. They are "user-generated" reviews written by people who have had an experience with a nonprofit. The writers are your nonprofit's volunteers, clients served, board members, donors, interns, and other non-paid stakeholders.

Why reviews? How many of you have used Yelp, Tripadvisor, or Amazon Book Reviews in the past month before making a buying decision? If you have, you are like the majority of consumers on-line, who read user-generated reviews of products and services before making buying decisions.

Reviews on GuideStar make it easier for your stakeholders to share their experiences with you so that other people can discover you. Reviews provide a vivid, emotionally engaging, and authentic perspective on a nonprofit. The impact of your nonprofit is visible on a human scale and through the voices of people who have witnessed your work. All nonprofits have stories to tell—stories about the clients you've served, policies that you've influenced, and communities you've made a difference in. This is an easy, fast, and free way to collect those stories for all to see.

Plus, you're getting instantaneous feedback about your programs and services—what your nonprofit is good at and what areas it can improve on. None of us are perfect, but as a sector, we all aim for continuous improvement and transparency.

No Reviews about Your Nonprofit Yet?

Yes, you can encourage non-paid stakeholders—your volunteers, clients served, board members, donors, interns, and others—to write reviews. You can ask for reviews and provide the link to your Write a Review page via:

  • E-mails to your board members, donors, volunteers, and current/former clients.
  • E-newsletters to your volunteers and community.
  • Your staff's e-mail signatures at the bottom of their e-mails.
  • The home page of your Web site—it shows commitment to transparency and excellence.
  • Materials you hand out to clients.
  • Signs in your office.
  • Mentioning the opportunity to volunteers while they are at your office.
  • Your thank you letters to donors—they will appreciate the opportunity to express themselves!

Safeguards to Protect against Unfairly Harsh Reviews

We know that nonprofits value their reputations. We have built-in safeguards to protect them:

  • The automatic speech filter ensures that the reviews adhere to the guidelines for civil speech.
  • You can "comment" on each review you receive. If you feel that a particular review was unfair, simply click on "comment" and clarify or respond to the review. We encourage you to engage in the dialogue.
  • Nonprofits can ask stakeholders who they think know their work well - their volunteers, clients served, donors, board members and other unpaid stakeholders - to write a review about them

A number of nonprofits have found the constructive criticism offered in reviews useful and have changed their operations and implemented reviewers' suggestions. Negative feedback also offers a great chance to ask all of the people who know the positive work you've done to write about their experiences with you. Their reviews will balance critical ones. In the world of on-line reviews, readers understand that there are going to be different perspectives, and they don't expect any product, service, or organization to be perfect.

Perla Ni, GreatNonprofits
© 2009, GreatNonprofits

Perla Ni is the founder and CEO of GreatNonprofits.

Topics: Impact