GuideStar

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GuideStar
GuideStar USA logo.jpg
Founded 1994
Founder Arthur "Buzz" Schmidt
Type Non-profit Organization
Tax ID no. 54-1774039
Focus Nonprofit Information
Location
Origins Williamsburg, VA
Area served United States
Product Nonprofit Analysis Solutions
Key people Jacob Harold, James Lum, James Dobrzeniecki, Chuck McLean, Debra Snider
Slogan Trusted Nonprofit Information. Confident Decisions.
Mission To revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.[1]
Website http://www.guidestar.org

GuideStar USA, Inc. is an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies. In 2010, their database contained over 5 million IRS Forms 990 on 1.9 million organizations.[2]

GuideStar was the first central source of information on U.S. nonprofits.[citation needed] According to the company, GuideStar was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia, in September 1994 and received tax-exempt status in 1996,[3] the same year the company began posting nonprofit organizations' financial reports to the World Wide Web.[4]

GuideStar's operations include data digitization, database management and development, nonprofit services, web site operations and research. GuideStar also serves to verify that a recipient organization is established and that donated funds go where the donor intended for individuals looking to give in the wake of disasters[5] or during the holiday season.[6] Those interested in reviewing a nonprofit's recent Forms 990 can register at GuideStar.org and download them for free.[7]

History[edit]

GuideStar, formerly known as Philanthropic Research, Inc., was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia, in September 1994 by Arthur "Buzz" Schmidt as a company dedicated to making charitable giving more efficient by providing easily accessible nonprofit information.[8] GuideStar officially received tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) public charity in 1996. In July 1996, GuideStar published the GuideStar Directory of American Charities, a CD and printed index that presented full reports on 35,000 charities and partial reports on 7,000 other charities.[9] That fall, GuideStar officially launched its website, allowing it to update the data more frequently and provide more extensive information.[10] GuideStar proceeded to post information on all 501(c)(3) nonprofits listed in the IRS Business Master File, and by December 1997, the database held information on more than 600,000 nonprofits.[11][12] From there, in 1998, GuideStar provided digitized 990 data on its Web site’s individual public charities pages.[13][14] In October 1999, GuideStar began posting 501(c)(3) public charities’ annual information returns, known as IRS Forms 990 and 990-EZ.[15] In 2001, GuideStar was known as the nation's premier nonprofit database, at the time offering financial information on more than 850,000 organizations.[16]

In February 2002, former PBS Chief Operating Officer Robert G. Ottenhoff[17] took on Schmidt's role as president, and Schmidt became Chairman of GuideStar's board.[18]

Since the turn of the millennium, GuideStar has expanded its database and its tools and services for understanding and managing nonprofit data:

  • 2001: GuideStar began publishing an annual Nonprofit Compensation Report.[19] The first edition was derived from compensation data reported to the IRS by nearly 75,000 charities.[20] In response to 9/11, GuideStar expanded the database to include non-charitable organizations eligible to accept tax-deductible contributions, along with special 9/11 funds and programs.[21] GuideStar also collaborated with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, providing data for the WTC Relief Info site.[22] In November, TIME named GuideStar founder Buzz Schmidt one of seven innovators in philanthropy for the new millennium.[23] At the end of the year, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office launched an on-line Charities Research Service based on a customized version of the GuideStar database and search engine.[24]
  • 2002: In August, The NonProfit Times named GuideStar founder and board chair Buzz Schmidt to the NPT Power and Influence Top 50 for the third consecutive year.[25] At the end of the year, GuideStar released the results of its first annual nonprofit economic survey.[26]
  • 2003: As part of the May launch of "Operation Phoney Philanthropy", the U.S. Federal Trade Commission encouraged donors to research charities’ legitimacy on GuideStar before giving.[27] That October, GuideStar received a U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Opportunities Program grant to create a system through which state charity regulators could share information.[28]
  • 2004: California Attorney General's Office modified its Charities Search to one based on a customized version of the GuideStar database and search engine.[29]
  • 2005: In March 2005, the Interim Report of the Panel of the Nonprofit Sector delivered to the Senate Finance Committee cited GuideStar’s contributions to nonprofit transparency.[30] In June, GuideStar launched a new Web site that included all tax-exempt organizations registered with the IRS, expanding the database by more than 340,000 nonprofits.[31]
  • 2006: GuideStar modified its search engine to make it easier for users to find data.[32]
  • 2007: Online donation capabilities were added to the GuideStar Web site; long-time partner Network for Good processed the donations.[33] To further connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters, GuideStar launched a beta version of the GuideStar Exchange.[34]
  • 2008: GuideStar released a new report on characteristics that drive foundation spending patterns.[35]
  • 2009: Charity reviews also became available on the database for individuals to communicate their experiences with nonprofits.[36] A CEO Compensation Checkpoint service for analyzing nonprofit CEO compensation was also launched.[37]
  • 2010: GuideStar partnered with charity evaluators Philanthropedia, Great Nonprofits, and GiveWell to combine databases to create a tool called "Take Action@GuideStar", to give donors an easier way to get more information about the causes they were interested in and to provide expert analysis of individual nonprofits working in specific cause areas.[38]
  • 2011: In March, GuideStar acquired Philanthropedia and Social Actions.[39] In May, "Charting Impact" was launched.[40] The project—led by BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Independent Sector, and GuideStar—aims to have nonprofit organizations answer five basic questions about their plans for impact and results, and then publicly share that information on a website hosted by GuideStar. In June, GuideStar launched a new way to buy nonprofit data: GuideStar Premium Pay As You Go, allowing users to purchase a single report for a specific nonprofit featuring GuideStar Premium's data.[41]
  • 2012: GuideStar and Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) launched Financial SCAN (Situation and Comparables Analysis), an online tool to assess a nonprofit's financial health. Financial SCAN can be used as a regular part of nonprofit due diligence and to help understand organizational financial change over time.[42] In July, GuideStar announced that Jacob Harold, previously of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, was selected to replace Bob Ottenhoff as GuideStar's President and CEO, marking the end of Bob's 10 year tenure at GuideStar. Jacob officially assumed his role in October.[43] In October, GuideStar released More Money for More Good, a nonprofit fundraising guidebook, in partnership with Hope Consulting.[44] GuideStar also released its 2012 Compensation Report in October, which covered CEO compensation based on 77,000 nonprofit tax returns filed in 2010.[45]
  • 2013: In June, GuideStar announced major changes to the GuideStar Exchange, the only program of its kind that encourages nonprofit transparency on a national scale and allows nonprofits to supplement the public information that is available from the IRS. [46] Instead of an all-or-nothing Seal program, the new GuideStar Exchange was changed to consist of bronze, silver, and gold participation levels that reward nonprofits based on the amount of information they share with the public via GuideStar. [47] The changes were made to align more closely with research conducted by Hope Consulting that revealed donors, institutional funders, and financial advisors most want to know basic, financial and impact and effectiveness information about nonprofits. [48] Additionally, GuideStar partnered with Grassroots.org to offer new benefits to nonprofits that have taken the time to become more transparent and provided GuideStar with additional information about their missions, programs, and finances through the GuideStar Exchange program. [49] Also in June, GuideStar partnered with Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to pen an open letter to the donors of American denouncing the “overhead ratio” as the sole measure of nonprofit performance. This launched the Overhead Myth Campaign. [50] In September 2013, GuideStar and the Foundation Center announced a strategic partnership to deliver much-needed data and resources to the social sector. [51] In November 2013, GuideStar and the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) announced Simplify, a new approach to information sharing between funders and grantees, to ensure more efficiency in the grantmaking process. [52] Also in November, GuideStar and Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) launched version 2.0 of Financial SCAN. Updates to Financial SCAN include: Expanded peer comparison capabilities, Excel download feature, new pricing, and a longer nonprofit express pass. [53]

Awards & Recognition[edit]

In January 1998, GuideStar received an award for Nonprofit Web Site Excellence from Philanthropy Journal, with an honorable mention for "Service to the Sector" for its searchable database of (at that time) more than 620,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations.[54]

GuideStar won the InfoCommerce Model of Excellence Award in 2004 by the Infocommerce Group consulting firm, for distinction in database information publishing.[55]

In 2012, founder and board chair Buzz Schmidt and board member Virginia Hodgkinson were recognized by The NonProfit Times as two of the Top 25 individuals who have shaped the charitable sector in the last 25 years.[56]

GuideStar’s Chief Financial Officer James Lum was awarded the 2014 Nonprofit CFO Transformational Leader Award at the 2014 Nonprofit CFO of the Year Awards Luncheon on January 31st, 2014. [57]

In August 2014, GuideStar's President and CEO Jacob Harold was named on the 2014 Power and Influence Top 50 list by the NonProfit Times (NPT). [58]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "GuideStar". guidestar.org. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  2. ^ [1] Walzer, Philip (2010). "Williamsburg's GuideStar pushes quiet revolution", The Virginian-Pilot, 21 October 2010
  3. ^ [2] GuideStar History
  4. ^ [3] Rawe, Julie (2001). "Where Does Your Gift Go?", Time Magazine, 28 October 2001
  5. ^ Hays, Julie. "How to help after the superstorm". Impact Your World. CNN. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Sands, Darren. "Giving This Holiday Season? Don’t Get Duped.". Black Enterprise: Wealth for Life. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "How To Evaluate Before You Donate - A Nonprofit Primer". StarNews Online article. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  8. ^ Taylor, April (8 October 2004). "COLLECTION OF DATA CALLED A BLESSING FOR CHARITIES". Daily Press. 
  9. ^ Mayfield, Dave. "ONLINE INFORMATION ON CHARITIES "THERE'S HUGE CHARITABLE CAPACITY THAT'S UNTAPPED. WE JUST NEED TO INCREASE THE CONFIDENCE OF DONORS TO GIVE". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Akst, Daniel. "GuideStar: Data About Nonprofits Goes Online". Carnegie Results. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Associated Press. "Warning: Be smart with charitable donations". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  12. ^ Waldman, Amy (9 December 1997). "In a World of Good Causes, Beware Waste and a Few Crooks". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Cay Johnston, David (18 October 1999). "Tax Returns Of Charities To Be Posted On the Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  14. ^ Roberts, Fletcher (18 November 1998). "In the 990's Fine Print, the Innards of Nonprofits". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Cay Johnston, David (20 November 2000). "ACCOUNTABILITY; For Checking Out a Charity, Remember the Number 990". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Rawe, Julie (28 October 2001). "Where Does Your Gift Go?". TIME. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  17. ^ & Karen Everhart Bedford, Steve Behrens. "Rumors rampant as Ottenhoff steps down". Current Online. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  18. ^ McNamara, Don. "Competition from gov't, funding shut GuideStar U.K.". The NonProfit Times. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Lipman, Harvy. "Unbalanced Pay Scales". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  20. ^ Wooster, Martin Morse. "Paying Charity CEOs". American Enterprise. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  21. ^ Editors (20 September 2001). "Internet scams are exploiting the generosity of Americans helping the victims of the terrorist attacks". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  22. ^ Editors (18 February 2002). "IRS CLEARS CREATION OF CHARITIES, LITTLE OVERSIGHT, NO FOLLOW-UP SINCE SEPT. 11 ATTACKS". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Rawe, Julie (28 October 2001). "Where Does Your Gift Go?". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  24. ^ Schwinn, Elizabeth. "New Mexico to Put Charity Data Online". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  25. ^ Editors. "On The Move". Daily Press. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  26. ^ Stark, Betsy (23 December 2001). "Charities Donations Down". ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. 
  27. ^ Mack, Brenda. "FTC and States Unite to Fight Fundraising Fraud". Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  28. ^ Wallace, Nicole. "Federal Program Awards $13.95-Million". Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  29. ^ Wallack, Todd (24 June 2011). "Checking on charities to become easier / State attorney general's office signs contract to update Web site". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  30. ^ Sector, Independent. "Panel on the Nonprofit Sector". Independent Sector Interim Report. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  31. ^ Newton, Benita. "Updated site gives users more info on nonprofits". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Editors, GuideStar. "Just in Time for the Giving Season, GuideStar Launches Improved Search". Business Wire. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  33. ^ nonprofitorgs. "What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About GuideStar, Network for Good and Social Media Fundraising". Nonprofit Tech 2.0. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  34. ^ Staff, Join Together. "Get Listed on the GuideStar Exchange". The Partnership at Drugfree.org. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  35. ^ Authors, Multiple. "What Drives Foundation Expenses". Urban Institute Report. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  36. ^ Ogden, Tim. "The Worst (and Best) Way to Pick A Charity This Year". The Jack Miller Center. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  37. ^ Smith, Pete. "Checking out Checkpoint". Nonprofit Musings. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  38. ^ Vitanov, Deyan. "Announcing TakeAction@GuideStar!". Philanthropedia Blog. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  39. ^ "Two new acquisitions extend GuideStar’s reach". Alliance Magazine. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  40. ^ "Helping Nonprofit Organizations Explore Their Goals and Progress". Hewlett Foundation Newsroom. Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  41. ^ Joy, Kyla. "How to spot a fake: Nonprofits you don’t want to give to". Kyla Joyful. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  42. ^ Bernholz, Lucy. "Philanthropy 2173". Putting Data in Context. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  43. ^ "Jacob Harold Selected To Head GuideStar". The NonProfit Times. July 19, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  44. ^ Reiss, Norman. "Attracting New Donors to Support Your Nonprofit". Nonprofit Bridge. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  45. ^ Hopfensperger, Jean. "Philanthropy beat: Salaries drop for nonprofit leaders". StarTribune. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  46. ^ Avery, Sarah. "The Next Level of Transparency: GuideStar Exchange". Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  47. ^ Cunniffe, Eileen. "GuideStar to Collect Nonprofit Governance Information in League with BoardSource". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  48. ^ Ulrich, Greg. "But… Do Donors Want More Data on Nonprofits?". Markets for Good. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  49. ^ "GuideStar Webinar - Grassroots.org Free Technology Tools and Services". Grassroots.org. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  50. ^ Brandt, Julie. "Overhead Costs: The Obsession Must Stop". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  51. ^ Cohen, Rick. "The “Medium Data” Alliance between Guidestar and the Foundation Center: Get Your Information Here!". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  52. ^ Lopez, Marisa. "Introducing Simplify: Streamlining Grant Applications". exponent partners. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  53. ^ Kramer, Peter. "Financial SCAN 2.0! Coming Nov 19". Nonprofit Finance Fund. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  54. ^ White, Daphne. "Cyberspace Fundraising". Foundation News & Commentary. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  55. ^ Editors, InfoCommerce. "2004 Award Winners". InfoCommerce. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  56. ^ "The Best & The Brightest, Mostly". The NonProfit Times. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  57. ^ "Executive Voices: An interview with GuideStar CFO James Lum, a 2014 Transformational Leader". Association Trends. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  58. ^ Clolery, Paul. "Power and Influence Top 50: Honorees Insist On A Civil Society and Chart A Path Toward It". The NonProfit Times. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]