Last month a LinkedIn email from the group “GuideStar — The Nonprofit Conversation” caught my attention. Written by David Mundy, eCommerce Manager at GuideStar, he wrote an article on the vision behind the GuideStar Exchange. Here is an excerpt:
Imagine a world where when you add a new program, are ready to report annual results, change board members, or move locations you only have to go to one place to update this information. This information then populates the rest of the world wide web across dozens of major nonprofit platforms (like AmazonSmile), donations processing websites (like Network for Good ), foundation grant applications, donor advised funds (like Fidelity, Schwab, and Vanguard), search engines, and more.
This is the GuideStar Exchange . Your universal nonprofit record.
This is a world where anytime someone searches for information about your organization across the internet, they find the most up-to-date, accurate, comprehensive information that you’ve entered only once via GuideStar.
The GuideStar Exchange goes above and beyond (in terms of quantity and quality) the information you submit to the IRS annually through the 990 form. It is the standard for the sector in defining a nonprofit organization.
The GuideStar Exchange empowers you, the nonprofit manager to tell your own story, manage your brand, and share the kind of information donors and funders are looking for.
According to information in a GuideStar Exchange video, individual donors are interested in three kinds of information when deciding to make a grant, and the GuideStar Exchange has provided three levels to coordinate with each of the three kinds of information donors are seeking:
- Basic information about mission and contact information [GuideStar Exchange Bronze-level]
- Financial due diligence [GuideStar Exchange Silver-level]
- Impact and effectiveness information to demonstrate how you are fulfilling your mission and running effectively [GuideStar Gold-level]
With more than seven million annual visitors each year, 50,000 social media followers, and relationships with the top eight donor-advised fund and the top 20 online donation sites, GuideStar provides a powerful tool to help better serve the nonprofit community and donors.
A question about the business model of GuideStar monetizing voluntarily submitted nonprofit data came up on the LinkedIn thread, and David’s response was as follows:
We don’t charge nonprofits anything for participating in the GuideStar Exchange and we don’t charge the vast majority of our 7M annual visitors anything to look up individual nonprofit records. We support our mission related activities monetarily through the same channels we always have—(1) bulk distribution of data to customers who want to consume the entire database or large parts of it on their website, their mobile app, in their search results, etc. The customer is paying for the convenience of access to bulk data and the ability to have that data be displayed through their platform. (2) Customers also pay for this data through products that provide analysis or “mash up” the data in various ways turning the data into knowledge. We are applying this same model with the data we collect through the GuideStar Exchange.
Are you one of the 90,000+ nonprofits participating in some way with the GuideStar Exchange? If so, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about their vision.
You may like to become a part of the 9,000+ LinkedIn members of the “GuideStar — The Nonprofit Conversation” group, and you can learn more and join the group here.