$11.5M for Guidestar

GuideStar, an online database of program and finanical information on more than 850,000 nonprofits, has secured $11.5 million in funding over five years to support its operations.

Nine foundations teamed up to support GuideStar, created in 1994 by Philanthropic Research, a nonprofit in Williamsburg, Va.

The infusion of operating cash is a big boost for GuideStar, which has been seeking philanthropic contributions and business partners to support its $5.5 million annual operating budget and staff of roughly 40 employees.

GuideStar’s data, available for free at its Web site, includes more than 730,000 digitized Forms 990 and 990-EZ filed over three years by charitable groups required to submit financial data to the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition to publishing tax data included in forms that nonprofits submit to the IRS, GuideStar invites all organizations in its database to register and complete an online questionnaire about themselves and their programs.

More than 50,000 organizations have provided that additional information to the database.

In addition to receiving philanthropic contributions, GuideStar markets revenue-producing services.

One links grantmakers to an IRS publication verifying the tax-exempt status of nonprofits.

Another generates reports analyzing an organization’s finances over time and comparing it to other U.S. nonprofits, both in the same field and in the same region.

Still another provides compensation information for at least one paid position for nearly 75,000 nonprofits. A new report will be issued in May.

New revenue-producing services in the works include an automated tool to let customers confirm whether nonprofits hold tax-exempt status from the IRS, and a separate tool to make it easier for customers to request and receive information on nonprofits from GuideStar’s database.

Foundations contributing to the five-year effort include 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.

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