GuideStar Blog

Breaking #BadNonprofitHabits: Unrealistic Overhead Ratios

A few days ago, nonprofit leader, visionary, and lover of unicorns, Vu Le, tweeted the message below about one of the top #badnonprofithabits: advertising how high a percentage of a donation goes “directly to helping the individuals we serve.” Vu pointedly pleaded, “Y’all, please stop putting stuff like this on your website and then complain about how people don’t fund core support like rent and utilities.” He is 100 percent correct!


Hospice Care for Nonprofits: Diagnosis and Treatment

How healthy is your organization?

What’s your trajectory? Are you growing, shrinking, or treading water? What’s the energy level among staff and board? Is your mission still relevant and inspiring?

More than a decade ago, I participated in volunteer training at our local hospice agency. As the Great Recession rolled through the economy, I found myself applying the lessons of hospice to my work with nonprofits.

Not every organization is meant to live forever—and that’s OK. In this post, we’ll discuss how to determine if your organization is dying and what to do about it. A future post will cover the board’s role in end-of-life decisions.


International Humanitarian Aid Totaled Nearly $29 Billion in 2018

International humanitarian assistance totaled a record $28.9 billion in 2018, an increase of 30 percent since 2014, but up just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, a study by Development Initiatives finds.


Creating Your Nonprofit’s Future: Why Strategic Planning May Be the Most Important Thing Nonprofit Executive Directors Can Do

If you’re the leader of a nonprofit organization, you no doubt face a constant barrage of demands and opportunities. And the more successful your organization becomes, the more demands you need to field. Your clients want you to provide more or different services; other groups ask you to partner with them; staff members suggest new program ideas and priorities. You are flooded with invitations to participate on committees, respond to RFPs (requests for proposals), and speak at conferences. You also have your own ideas for opportunities to create and seek out. Although this is a good problem to have, you can’t do it all—and it can be challenging to consider all the options. How do you decide which opportunities deserve the valuable time of your staff, board, and volunteers?


Donor Dollars Into Dividends: The Past, Present, and Future of Nonprofits Aiding the Private Sector

Bleeding plant-based burgers were last month’s biggest financial news. Beyond Meat had the most successful initial public offering of any startup since the 2008 crash, and Impossible Foods raised $300 million in venture capital. Both burgers can hold their own in the meat aisle or a fast food restaurant.


The Best Fundraising Consultants in the World

I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that CampaignCounsel.org is the best capital campaign consultancy in the world! We have great success stories, amazing projects, smart-as-a-whip team members, and an impressive scope of experience. To my dismay, however, our company is not hired by every organization that is going into a campaign. The reason? We are not the best consulting company for every project.


Design Your Fundraising for Older Eyes and See Your Revenue Rise

Life is full of transitions, most of them inescapable.

Like bifocals.

They’re inevitable once you reach a “certain age,” which is somewhere around 40.

Since the vast majority of your donors are even older, you can be sure they have presbyopia. Which is to say, they wear bifocals.


Charitable Giving Up 0.7 Percent in 2018, Giving USA Finds

Produced by the Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018 (executive summary) found that total giving in 2018, adjusted for inflation, fell 1.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, with an increase in giving by foundations and corporations offset by a decline in individual giving. The reports authors suggest that the sharp year-end decline in the stock market as well as the changed tax policy environment, including a doubling of the standard deduction, likely had a dampening effect on giving. Various studies suggest that, as a result of the change, the number of households that itemized their deductions may have dropped from more than 45 million in 2016 to between 16 million and 20 million in 2018.


The Offer in Fundraising Appeals, and Why We Should Take Our Cue from Commercial Marketing

Photo by Artem Beliaikin @belart84 on Unsplash

In direct response, whether it’s fundraising or commercial marketing, the offer is one of the most important elements for success. Arguably the most important. And yet it’s often one of the most misunderstood.


Using Outcomes to Guide Your Nonprofit to Success

Outcomes measurement has become part of the social sector vernacular. Foundations, nonprofits, and many others speak of outcomes as a key component of successful program design. Before you begin to design your program, you should already have a good sense of what your outcomes are going to be.