In December we asked newsletter readers which activities they used GuideStar for most often. Most respondents (77.5 percent) indicated that they used GuideStar mostly to access Forms 990. But besides accessing Forms 990, how else do people use GuideStar?
We've put together a list of just some of the ways our users take advantage of the information available on the GuideStar Web site. As you read through the list, you may be surprised at what you've been missing.
- Find Employment Opportunities
Participating nonprofit organizations can advertise employment opportunities in the classifieds section of the GuideStar Web site. GuideStar's classified ads are also used for other purposes, such as advertising volunteer opportunities and the need for donated goods.
- Research for Personal Giving Decisions
The GuideStar database is a valuable resource for financial information on nonprofits, including 990s. In addition to the IRS-provided data more than 67,000 organizations have voluntarily completed the GuideStar Information Form (GIF), providing detailed information about their organizations, including missions, programs, accomplishments, and objectives.
Many nonprofit organizations point potential donors to their GuideStar listing. "We refer potential donors to GuideStar as a way of adding to our creditability and willingness to share financial information," commented Stacy Bobulinski, director of development for the Making a Difference Foundation.
- Research Grant Applicants
Researching grant applicants has never been so easy. With more than 850,000 nonprofit organizations listed in the GuideStar database, of which more than 67,000 have provided more detailed information, everything you need to know is at your fingertips.
- Check Nonprofit Compensation
Salaries of officers, directors, trustees, and key employees who earn more than $50,000 annually can be found on the Form 990. GuideStar also offers an annual Compensation Report with which you can compare your nonprofit's compensation practices by job category, gender, geography, type of nonprofit, budget size, or state.
- Benchmark Nonprofit Organizations
Would you like to see how a nonprofit compares to its peers? Perhaps you are wondering how your organization is faring. Benchmarking organizations is a useful tool in determining a nonprofit's health. GuideStar Analyst Reports include all of the information needed for benchmarking.
- Verify 501(c)(3) Status
Users often go to the GuideStar database to determine if an organization is a legitimate tax-exempt organization. In addition, grantmakers use GuideStar Charity Check to view grant applicants' IRS Publication 78 listings.
- Update a Nonprofit's Listing
If you are affiliated with an organization that has not already done so, start taking full advantage of GuideStar by becoming a participant. Just register your nonprofit and complete the GuideStar Information Form (GIF). Participants can update their listings as often as they wish, ensuring that the freshest, most up-to-date information is available to donors and funders. Learn more about the many benefits of being a GuideStar participant.
- Prospect Research
Some 52.2 percent of respondents stated that they use GuideStar for prospect research. The 990-PF, the reporting form that private foundations must file with the IRS, can be used to identify grants that were awarded to nonprofits during a particular fiscal year.
- Read GuideStar Feature Articles
The second most-used GuideStar resource, according to our newsletter readers, are the articles. Feature articles are written by GuideStar staff members and include a wealth of information on topics pertaining to the nonprofit sector.
These are just some of the applications users have found for GuideStar. The next time you're at the GuideStar Web site remember—there's more to GuideStar than just the Forms 990.
The preceding post is by Sharon Brown, GuideStar's nonprofit marketing coordinator.