The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Asking Questions as a Powerful Way to Learn

Whether in the realm of business, journalism, relationships, or of course in our nonprofit and social sector, the act of “questioning” can be powerful. A piece in the Harvard Business Review last year noted, “Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations: It spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation and performance improvement, it builds rapport and trust among team members. And it can mitigate business risk by uncovering unforeseen pitfalls and hazards.”


Pulling Back the Veil: Top 5 Things Grantees and Funders Wish the Other Knew

Black Fox Philanthropy and Candid (formerly Foundation Center, which recently combined with GuideStar to form a brand new organization) co-hosted a gathering for capacity building partners and NGOs at Opportunity Collaboration last October. Why? We had a burning question for the Funder and NGO attendees that could help clear a path to stronger alliances and greater impact:

“What do you wish each other knew that would make a difference in your relationships, how you do your work in the world, and the impact you are having?”


How Funder Fragility Is Similar to White Fragility and What Funders Can Do about It

At a group convening I attended a while back, we discussed some of the challenges facing leaders of color in the sector, including how 90% of funding still go to white-led organizations, how funders still use a very white lens in what is considered good data and effective programs, how the smallest and most burdensome grants are often the only ones accessible to marginalized-communities-led organizations, how white foundation boards are, the general lack of trust foundations have for nonprofits, and how progressive foundations spend endless amounts of time intellectualizing, which disproportionately harms marginalized communities because they cannot afford to wait months or years for funding decisions.


5 Fundraising Tips—Straight from Donors and Grantmakers

Major gift fundraising—whether from individuals, foundations, or companies—is an alchemy of art and science, with the skill of relationship building at its core. In today’s shifting philanthropy landscape, the distance between donors and fundraisers is shrinking, with venture approaches on the rise and competition at its fiercest. So how can fundraisers adapt to this context?


Foundations Call on Themselves to Get Better

The following article is cross-posted from Alliance magazine blog. Based out of the UK, Alliance magazine is the leading global magazine on philanthropy and social investment.

Last month, the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), engaged by the Skoll Foundation, and working together with a Steering Group composed of the Porticus, Ford, and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, published a report looking at funder behaviour from a grantee perspective.


Funder Partnership—or Wannabe?

Funders are used to hearing different versions of the meaning of “partnership” from nonprofits wanting to work with them (aka receive funding). All too often the proposed “partnership” involves the funder supporting the initiatives or priorities the applicant brings forward with minimal input from the funder. On the other hand, the applicant sees that the funder 1) has “a lot of money” and 2) supports [insert general category the nonprofit works in]. Therefore the funder is fair game to “partner.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of these requests. When, however, I asked, “So you’re applying to receive x dollars ... where is the partnership portion for the foundation?” I frequently didn’t get an answer.


The Hallmarks of a Good Grant Writer

Just as the stamp on the bottom of a silver vase indicates it is made of first-class materials, the hallmarks of a good grant writer signal to one and all that the grant writer is the real deal. Each step in the grantseeking process has its own identifiable hallmarks. A good grant writer …


Foundations, How Aggravating Is Your Grantmaking Process? Use This Checklist to Find Out!

As we roll into 2017, there have been lots of articles about how philanthropy must adapt, including my post urging funders to increase payout and fund advocacy efforts, as well as this piece on moving away from “charity” toward “justice.” These conversations are critical and we must keep having them. While we figure that stuff out, though, let’s take care of a few logistical things foundations do that make us nonprofits want to roll up a printed-out copy of our tax filings and beat ourselves unconscious.


Grantseekers, How Irritating Are You to Funders? Use This Checklist to Find Out

Hi everyone. Last week, I unveiled the FLAIL Index, a tool that allows foundations to see whether or not their grantmaking process will unleash the demon-god Cthulhu upon this world. I’m now calling it the FLAIL Scale (#FLAILscale), since things that rhyme are always more worth our time. I will be updating the Scale this week, based on your feedback, to increase the aggravation points for certain items, such as requiring people to get anything notarized, as well as add some redemption points. Thank you to everyone who tested the FLAIL Scale, especially those who are actually using it to make their grant process better. You are amazing unicorns, and may Cthulhu spare you in the coming Apocalypse.

This week, for balance, we present the other side: Things that we nonprofits do that make funders want to punch us in the jaws—or worse, not fund our programs.


Collective impact: Voltron Vs. The Borg



A while ago, I wrote about how frustrated communities of color have been
regarding collective impact (visit the Collective Impact Forum to learn more about what collective impact is and read thoughts on it).  Most CI efforts start out with the best of intentions. As they develop though, they sometimes warp into massive entities that conquer and destroy all in their paths. I liken this to Star Trek villain The Borg, a species made up of billions of individuals who got annexed into a single hive mind, whose catchphrase is “resistance is futile.” The Borg are a terrifying and destructive force, much like restricted funding or those annoying grants that make you get people to vote for your org.


  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.