Lesson #4 – Importance of GuideStar

Lesson #4 Importance of GuideStar

Greetings from GrantLessons! It is time for Lesson #4 – Importance of GuideStar. I have written quite a bit over the last few months regarding GuideStar. However, some of the new followers may have not seen it so for those followers that know about GuideStar you can have a break while I tell a short story to the rest.

When I first started writing grants, I really never realized the importance of GuideStar. I had been using GuideStar for many years to look up potential grantor’s Form 990 to evaluate if they were going to be a good match for me to write a grant. But, I really never realized the true significance until I learned more about it from conference last year.

I learned that GuideStar has a database of 1.8 million nonprofits. GuideStar loads Form 990’s from the IRS after they have been processed. Every nonprofit in the country has to file a Form 990, that is if they want to remain in good standing with the IRS. Now GuideStar has developed a process of transparency where nonprofits may update their profile to include specific information about their programs. In return GuideStar Exchange provides a participation level for each nonprofit. It’s like being in the Olympics, your nonprofit can obtain a bronze, silver or gold participant level. GuideStar Exchange is new. So far, 25,783 nonprofits that have obtained a bronze level, 16,119 that have obtained silver level, and 1,031 have obtained gold level (reemember there are 1.8 million nonprofits). So that works out to 1.4% nonprofits receiving a bronze level, .8% nonprofits receiving a silver level, and .02% nonprofiits receiving a gold level.

Part of GuideStar’s business plan is to sell access to their database to people who want to give money away. Remember depending on the foundation, they have to give a certain percentage away each year to maintain their tax status. And, this is where we come in. If one of the grantor’s decides to use GuideStar Exchange as part of their criteria to determine which nonprofits they intend to fund, we want our chapter’s profile to have the Gold level. I completed this process for our chapter. It did take time to do. I had to have access to program and resource development information. We have the Gold level and we have it posted on our website at http://www.renosparks.assistanceleague.org .

You can do the same by going to http://www.guidestar.com and select the yellow button labeled “Update Nonprofit Report”. As we reach out to try to get new grants from the ones we have always been able to get each year, GuideStar Exchange becomes very important to us.

I came across a new grant for our chapter over the weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this grantor uses GuideStar as part of their application evaluation. I hope that will make our application stand out when it is reviewed. 😉

Next week, we will get into Form 990s, this is one you don’t want to miss. Oh and by the way, the Burners are on their way home. They are quite a spectacle to watch all covered in sand. It still is really smoky in Reno, we just hope those firefighters win the battle sooner rather than later with the Rim Fire.

Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon. Sandie

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