The Leading Source of Nonprofit Information Provides First Quarter Results during Interactive Impact Call
Release date: May 28, 2014
Washington, D.C—In an Impact Call held Monday, May 12, 2014, GuideStar president and CEO Jacob Harold and CFO James Lum reported on the organization's first quarter outcomes. Harold honed in on the 11.3 percent growth quarter over quarter and 57 percent year over year in total participation by nonprofits in the GuideStar Exchange, the free transparency program that helps connect nonprofits with millions of donors, funders, volunteers, and other supporters through information sharing and storytelling. The greatest growth came in the top tier of the program, the Gold level, up almost 40 percent since last quarter, with 2,857 participants currently at that level.
Lum presented unaudited first quarter financials, with revenue of $2.4 million and expenses of $2.7 million. Lum cited "the inherent difficulty in assessing long-term performance when using short-term measures" when contrasting first quarter negative cash flow of $690,000 and a GAAP Operating Income loss of $315,000 with 2013 full-year results of $850,000 in positive cash flow and $930,000 in operating income.
Other first quarter results included the release of a portfolio of six new GuideStar Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which provide users with fast alternatives for accessing comprehensive, high-quality information about nonprofits across the country; a partnership with BoardSource that enables nonprofits to share information about how their organizations are governed; and an article on the impact of overhead, which mentions the GuideStar, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator-sponsored Overhead Myth campaign, in the AFP magazine Advancing Philanthropy.
After highlighting GuideStar's five key organizational objectives for 2014, Harold announced the completion of a new strategic plan, GuideStar 2020, which summarizes the organization's strategic direction for the next three years and beyond. According to Harold, the goal of GuideStar 2020 is "to show what we have in store the next several years, what we're going to need from our community to make it happen, and why we believe it's actually possible. ... the release date of GuideStar 2020 aligns nicely with this fall," continued Harold, "which will be GuideStar's 20th anniversary."
Harold focused on GuideStar's quantitative programmatic results by highlighting the new organizational dashboard, an internal document that aids in GuideStar's decision-making processes. "As a data-driven organization, it's very important that we thoughtfully aggregate the different numbers that represent the work that we do," said Harold. To improve the dashboard's performance, vice president of strategy Mizmun Kusairi led a process to shift the organizational dashboard toward focusing on fewer metrics with clearer targets. For example, the number of new quarterly registered users on the www.guidestar.org website grew 12 percent over the previous quarter.
Lum discussed the organization's $1.1 million swing in cash flow the first quarter of 2014, compared to the first quarter 2013. "Timing is everything when it comes to results," said Lum, "and our underlying performance is much better when considered with all the relevant facts." Revenue increases of $100,000, excluding grants, were offset by the timing of grants and increased investment in staff expenses. "We are not basing our decisions merely on providing good quarterly results," Lum added. "Short-term results build up to long-term results, and long-term goals should guide short-term performance." Lum reported that GuideStar recently completed its annual audit, received a clean auditor's opinion, and would be filing its 2013 IRS Form 990 on time.
"Timing is everything when it comes to transparency," Lum added. While GuideStar had already reported year-end results in February and Q1 results during this call, "The IRS doesn't even have our year-end results, and there's a good chance that we'll be reporting our Q2 results before our 990 is even released through official IRS channels. Relying on the 990 alone for transparency is insufficient," Lum stated. The Impact Call is meant to provide results to constituents quickly and proactively and begin a systematic dialogue that encourages data-driven decision making across the nonprofit sector.
"As Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'The arch of the moral universe is long.' ... We have to keep in mind that making a better world takes a long time," said Harold when reflecting on the importance of the Impact Call and GuideStar 2020. "Through our Impact Calls, we're trying to provide systematic, regular updates about the single steps that we are taking towards our much longer term goal. We hope that our Impact Calls are useful for you and us, as a mechanism for us to systematically get feedback from our stakeholders—from our users, our funders, the nonprofits who provide us data, and the broader GuideStar community."
GuideStar's first Impact Call, held on February 24, was attended by more than 450 people and was featured in the Washington Post. More than 215 participated in the May 12 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 the next Impact Call on August 11, visit the impact page: http://npo.gs/impactpage. To access the recording of the May 12 live presentation and PowerPoint slides, visit GuideStar's webinar archives: http://www.guidestar.org/rxg/news/webinars/webinar-archive.aspx. Anyone wishing to provide feedback about the Impact Call is encouraged to leave a comment on the GuideStar Blog: http://npo.gs/ic1q2014.
GuideStar, www.guidestar.org, connects people and organizations with information on the programs, finances, and impact of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.