Foundations Collaborate to Fund GuideStar

Release date: April 4, 2002
In a historic collaboration, nine of the nation's leading charitable foundations have joined forces to fund the operations of GuideStar, the premier source of information on U.S. nonprofit organizations.

The Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Surdna Foundation have committed grants totaling $11.5 million to GuideStar over the next 5 years.

"The Hewlett Foundation has been pleased to participate in this collaborative at such a pivotal point in GuideStar's development," said Susan S. Bell, vice president for planning. "The ability for foundations to work well together to improve the effectiveness of the nonprofit sector is critical to the future strength of organizations like GuideStar and to the sector as a whole."

"I am impressed by how quickly GuideStar has become a standard reference source of information about nonprofit organizations, not just for foundations and individual donors, but also for lawyers, accountants, and government officials," Benjamin R. Shute, Jr., secretary of The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, commented.

GuideStar is the operating name and registered trademark of Philanthropic Research, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charity located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Established in 1994, GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice with information. To that end, GuideStar has created and is constantly updating a database of information on all IRS-recognized 501(c) nonprofit organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. "This unprecedented alliance by the nation's leading charitable foundations represents a tremendous endorsement of GuideStar's work in assembling and distributing nonprofit information," noted Buzz Schmidt, GuideStar's founder and chairman of the organization's board of directors. "The foundations' support demonstrates that GuideStar has matured from an entrepreneurial start-up to an integral resource for the nonprofit sector, and that GuideStar is here to stay."

Tom Reis, a program director in the area of Philanthropy and Volunteerism at The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, agreed. "We believe that GuideStar is providing an important and valuable service to both the philanthropic sector and those who are looking for opportunities to give of their time and money. Reliable information about nonprofits and their work is key to making sound investments for individuals and organizations. GuideStar is contributing to the overall improvement of reliable and accessible information and we are pleased to be part of the collaborative that is supporting this work."

"Accountability and transparency are important values for the nonprofit, public and private sectors, and goals that the Ford Foundation has long supported," Urvashi Vaid, deputy director of the foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program, noted. "GuideStar's database synthesizes vast amounts of information into a usable format, and is the national archive of financial information about U.S.-based nonprofits."

The GuideStar database currently comprises information on more than 850,000 nonprofit organizations. Basic program and financial data about these organizations is available for free on the GuideStar Web site, www.guidestar.org. The database also includes more than 730,000 digitized Forms 990 and 990-EZ, offering three years' worth of returns for those organizations required to file the financial reporting forms with the Internal Revenue Service.

All organizations in the database are invited to participate in GuideStar by registering and completing an online questionnaire; to date, more than 50,000 nonprofits have done so. Participation is free. GuideStar also offers value-added products and services for nonprofits, donors, professionals, grantmakers, and others interested in this vital sector.

GuideStar believes that making data about the nation's nonprofits widely available helps donors and grantmakers understand the work and effectiveness of individual nonprofits; gives nonprofits of all sizes and locations equal access to the engaged audience of Internet users; enables individual organizations to benchmark their performance against that of their peers; and strengthens the public's trust in and the overall effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

"We at GuideStar are thrilled by the vote of confidence these foundations have given us," said Schmidt. "We also feel a deep sense of responsibility to meet our funders' expectations by continuing to serve the nonprofit sector with innovation and sensitivity.

"Our funders' generosity will also make it possible for GuideStar to move to the next level—to expand our efforts to encourage nonprofit participation, to develop new products and services for the nonprofit sector, to acquire the technology to make GuideStar's offerings more robust, and to collaborate on initiatives to make the nonprofit sector more efficient and effective."

About GuideStar

GuideStar is the operating name and registered trademark of Philanthropic Research, Inc., a 501(c)(3) public charity located in Williamsburg, Virginia. GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice with information. To that end, GuideStar has created and is constantly updating a database of information on all IRS-recognized 501(c) nonprofit organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. The GuideStar database currently comprises information on 1.7 million nonprofit organizations. Basic program and financial data about these organizations are available for free on the GuideStar Web site, www.guidestar.org.

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