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GuideStar Blog

From the President's Office, June 2006

Dear Friend:

I'm sometimes asked what I mean when I say that GuideStar is a mission-driven organization.

It's a simple proposition: whatever we do—from allocating resources to determining what activities to engage in—the ultimate purpose is to further GuideStar's public service and our vision of connecting people and organizations with valuable information to improve the world around them. We measure our success in terms of the people and organizations that we serve through the data and services we provide.

An analysis of our site traffic confirms that the vast majority of GuideStar users are still served—at no cost to them—by our public service, GuideStar Basic.

We provide the nonprofit sector with a platform for voluntary transparency, posting the three most recent Forms 990 we have received from the IRS for each organization. We also post additional information that nonprofits voluntarily provide—information about their missions, programs, goals, accomplishments, and needs. More than 112,000 organizations have embraced this form of self-regulation and made voluntary disclosures at GuideStar that can be accessed without charge to any of our 500,000+ registered users.

A growing number of philanthropic partners recognize the value of this public service and have generously supported free public access to important information on the nonprofit sector. We couldn't continue to offer GuideStar Basic in its current form without their financial help.

Last fall we made a commitment to the future of the nonprofit sector when we launched GuideStar for Education.

GuideStar for Education gives academic researchers, faculty, and students enrolled in nonprofit management courses access to GuideStar Premium, a $1,000/person value, at no charge to the students, the professors, or the colleges and universities. GuideStar for Education facilitates research and new learning about the nonprofit sector. It adds a powerful tool to supplement academic curricula at 90 colleges and universities across the country. It empowers more than 3,000 students, many of whom will become leaders of the nonprofit sector, to discover the world of nonprofit organizations based in the United States. GuideStar is at the center of all of this important work. And we are proud to be giving back and offering free services to increase knowledge and to train the next generation of leaders, donors, and board members.

There's a lot at stake. The phenomenal growth in the nonprofit sector—70 percent in the past 10 years—coupled with the aging of my generation—the Baby Boomers (yes we are beginning to retire)—mean we have a growing leadership succession challenge.

As we reported in our January and May 2006 Newsletters, a study by the Bridgespan Group, "The Nonprofit Sector's Leadership Deficit," predicts that the sector must "attract and develop some 640,000 new senior managers just over the next decade." This figure is the equivalent of 2.4 times the number of managers currently employed in the sector.

One important path to nonprofit leadership is through academic centers. Recent years have seen a phenomenal growth in the number of educational institutions offering curricula on the nonprofit sector. Currently 600 academic institutions offer a degree or individual courses on nonprofits, and 91 U.S. institutions offer a graduate program on the nonprofit sector.

We'd appreciate your thoughts on how to improve this resource for educational institutions. Or maybe you have some recommendations on how to improve our other public services. Let me know what you think.

Sincerely,

Bob Ottenhoff
President and CEO