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

Everyone’s a giver in the nonprofit sector—or are they?

What nonprofits can learn from Adam Grant’s Give and Take

Earlier this year, GuideStar began hosting a staff book club. So far, we’ve reviewed, Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and most recently, Give and Take by Adam M. Grant. The book’s premise is that there are three types of people – givers, takers, and matchers – with givers being the most successful of the bunch, even though it may seem that takers gain more in the long-term.

How to make social sourced reviews work for your nonprofit

Think about the last time you bought something online. Did you look at Amazon or Google reviews first? Did you use use Yelp to find a great local restaurant? TripAdvisor to help coordinate your last adventure? CitySearch to find a hotel?

Most Locals Don’t Know About Local Charities

The following is a guest post by Jessica Belsky, director of communications at GreatNonprofits, the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great -- and perhaps not yet great -- nonprofits.

GuideStar Nonprofit Reports Now Include Expert Reviews

We are thrilled to announce a new feature on more than 2,300 of our nonprofit reports that focuses on impact—an increasingly important metric that donors are searching for before deciding where to direct their charitable contributions. This new area, which we’re calling the “Impact Tab,” signifies a complete merging of GuideStar and Philanthropedia databases, which we acquired in early 2011. You can see an example of the Impact Tab at the bottom of this blog.

We Want to Hear From You!

GuideStar will be conducting a series of quick polls to help us meet your needs in 2011. To see our first poll, please click here.

We Want to Hear From You!


A Holiday Note from Jacob Harold of the Hewlett Foundation


The Best Holiday Fundraising Appeal You've Never Tried

This past summer the Society of Singers, a nonprofit that provides financial support to professional singers dealing with career-threatening illnesses or other emergencies, found itself face to face with numerous challenges. In addition to having to adjust its budget and relocate to a staff member's home, its CEO/president retired, and the organization's new leadership was confronted with the challenge of raising $110,000 in a very short amount of time.

Society of Singers immediately set to work reaching out to its supporters. The organization sent out numerous e-mails and campaign letters—including a link to its profile on GreatNonprofits, where it has 55 glowing reviews—asking supporters to donate money:

"After 26 years of service to the Singers' Community, we have helped over 3,000 singers with nearly $3 million. We can assure you that the need for SOS is still there as the stream of endless calls for assistance continues. Don't just take our word for it, read testimonials from singers helped at"

Sure enough, donations started coming in. Over the summer, the Society of Singers was able to raise $45,000 and, more importantly, is still around to serve the singers' community.

If your organization is facing similar challenges, as we know many nonprofits are, it's our hope that reviews can help freshen up your fundraising and give you powerful stories that are compelling to donors.

What Reviews Can Do for You

In a survey of nearly 150 of GreatNonprofits' top-rated nonprofits this summer, organizations like yours listed the following benefits of collecting stakeholder reviews on GreatNonprofits:

  • Fundraising: including reviews in fundraising materials has helped raise money and find new donors
  • Volunteers: incorporating reviews into marketing and outreach materials has helped recruit new volunteers
  • Programs: stakeholder feedback has helped shape programmatic changes
  • Staff morale: many organizations reported a boost in staff morale as a result of receiving positive reviews from its stakeholders

How You Can Use Reviews This Holiday Giving Season

Fundraising is probably on your mind, so this season, why not let your stakeholders' words do the talking? Donors are having to make tough decisions about where to give in this tough economy, and they are looking for powerful stories of your impact. Maybe a client's life was changed by your organization's services, a volunteer's eyes were opened to a new cause, or a board member found a real sense of purpose serving on your organization's board. These are the reasons your organization is donation-worthy, so share them with your potential donors!

Here are just a few ideas for using your reviews:

  • Highlight reviews via social media. A snippet on your Facebook page, for example, might be what draws a new donor to your organization's website.
  • Incorporate reviews directly into fundraising appeals. After all, prospective donors want to know why they should donate to you, and who better to vouch for you than people who have been directly involved withyour organization?
  • If you don't have any reviews on GreatNonprofits yet, need we say it? Start asking your supporters to review your organization! Emphasize that even if they don't have funds to donate during the holidays, they are helping you out by sharing their story of your organization. Giving comes in many forms.

Xenia Shih, GreatNonprofits
© 2010, GreatNonprofits

Xenia Shih is a marketing manager for GreatNonprofits, a Web site where people who have firsthand knowledge of a nonprofit—board members, volunteers, donors, recipients of services—can tell others about their experiences with the organization.

Teaching Youngsters about the Nonprofit Sector


Driving toward Donor Confidence