GuideStar Details Its Plan to Build the Scaffolding of Social Change by 2020

Release date: August 21, 2014

The Leading Source of Nonprofit Information Celebrates Participation in the GuideStar Exchange by More Than 100,000 Nonprofits

Cover of GuideStar 2020, GuideStar's new strategic planWashington, D.C.—During its August Impact Call, GuideStar explored GuideStar 2020,its strategic plan to build the information scaffolding for social change. As he highlighted the plan, GuideStar's president and CEO Jacob Harold discussed three pillars that make up the core of its vision for the future: data collection, data distribution, and data innovation. Specifically, Harold stated that GuideStar plans to develop new products, new tools, and new insight (data innovation); improve its systems for compiling data across multiple dimensions (data collection); and expand its reach, depth, and interconnection (data distribution).

To increase the amount of information GuideStar collects, the organization will add a Platinum tier to the GuideStar Exchange, the program through which nonprofits can update their financial and programmatic information directly on GuideStar's database. Harold described this initiative as "potentially the most important thing that GuideStar will ever do." The Platinum level will be the fourth tier in the GuideStar Exchange, above current Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels. GuideStar Platinum will be the first GuideStar Exchange participation level to collect quantitative, programmatic data, i.e., the numbers that describe the successes of a nonprofit's mission. Harold cited the "number of people served, lives saved, and acres protected" as examples of GuideStar Platinum information.

Harold also announced several strategic successes from the organization's second quarter, including a milestone for the GuideStar Exchange. Since its creation in 2008, more than 100,000 nonprofits have updated their information in the GuideStar Exchange. In addition, Harold announced a 71 percent increase in the number of times the GuideStar database was accessed through the organization's application programming interfaces (APIs) over the last 12 months.

Harold highlighted the recent release of GuideStar's suite of APIs, including eight freeAPIs that provide a self-help environment for those who wish to incorporate nonprofit information into their platforms for free. This allows for real-time, direct access to information as needed, rather than using information that is only obtained periodically. As an example of GuideStar APIs' effectiveness, Harold pointed to the Simplify API. Simplify, a joint venture between the Technology Affinity Group (TAG), and GuideStar, is a common database that allows information that nonprofits share on the GuideStar Exchange to auto-populate fields on participating foundations' grant applications. The Simplify API "allows our database to talk to the software the foundations use so that the information can flow automatically and a nonprofit doesn't have to enter it a bunch of times," said Harold, describing a process that will expedite the grant application process for all parties.

Joining Harold on the call, CFO James Lum reported on the organization's unaudited quarterly financial results and forward-looking projections. Lum reported $2.81 million in second quarter revenue—including $250,000 in grants—and expenses of $2.77 million. While expenses for the quarter were only $30,000 higher than the previous quarter, revenue increased by $164,000 and was $390,000 higher than prior year. For the quarter, GuideStar had positive cash flow of $381,000 and GAAP Operating Income of $48,000, in contrast to first quarter negative cash flow of $692,000 and a GAAP Operating Loss of $315,000. Lum noted that "timing is everything" when explaining these results and attributed the improvement to seasonality of sales, timing of grants, and accelerated Membership and accounts receivable payments. Timing will also be important in the third and fourth quarters as seasonality lowers projected earned revenue while expenses are expected to hold steady. During this period cash flow is projected to be mostly negative until the rounds of transformational capital supporting the GuideStar 2020strategic plan are received.

GuideStar's first two Impact Calls, held in February and May, were attended by more than 650 people and were featured in the Washington Post and the NonProfit Times.Nearly 200 attendees participated in the August 11 Impact Call, which continued GuideStar's work to reframe nonprofit transparency to include information that is more timely, interactive, inclusive, and comprehensive.

For further information on GuideStar's results and outcomes and to register for their next Impact Call on November 10, visit their impact page. To access the recording of the August presentation and PowerPoint slides, visit GuideStar's webinar archives. Anyone wishing to provide feedback about the Impact Call is encouraged to leave a comment on the GuideStar Blog.

About GuideStar

GuideStar,, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects people and organizations with information on the programs, finances, and impact of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar, a CFC Charitable Organization #75786, serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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