GuideStar's mission is bold and ambitious: we want to "revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice with information."
Understanding what we mean by "information" is the easy part—although it is by no means simple to accomplish. Our database now includes 1.8 million Forms 990, covering most of the last five years. And more than 80,000 organizations have voluntarily provided us with additional information, such as summaries of their accomplishments, descriptions of their future plans, and up-to-date listings of board members and senior staff. Collecting and managing all of this data is hard and complicated work that takes up the bulk of our resources.
But how does GuideStar "revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice?" The answer is as varied as the nonprofit sector itself and the four million users who come to our Web site. Grantmakers use us to make better informed decisions. Board leaders use us to benchmark their organizations with others. Nonprofit managers use us to improve their organizations' performance. The media and government regulators use us for due diligence. Donors use us to make more confident giving decisions. And all can use our products and services to do their tasks more efficiently and effectively.
GuideStar may not deliver actual public services to individuals, but our work touches every one of the million-plus charitable organizations in operation. The nonprofit sector has taken to calling organizations like ours "intermediary" or the sector's "infrastructure." Like a back without a backbone, a sector without a strong infrastructure will crumble, yet the nonprofit sector's infrastructure—its role and what it contributes to society—is still a mystery to too many.
That's why we want to call your attention to a special edition of Nonprofit Quarterly—out this month—which includes a case statement, an easy-to-read map of national and regional infrastructure organizations, and some compelling information on the role of organizations such as GuideStar.
What do you think?
President and CEO, GuideStar