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GuideStar targets U.K.

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By Todd Cohen

Thanks to a grant from the British Treasury, GuideStar is spawning a U.K. version of its online database of financial and programmatic information about charities.

Like GuideStar, which features data on 850,000 U.S. charities, including 220,000 that file Form 990 financial reports with the Internal Revenue Service, the new GuideStar UK will feature data on 180,000 charities that file annual reports with the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

Mirroring GuideStar’s approach in the U.S., British charities will be able to submit information on their programs to the GuideStar UK web site.

The free site, still without a Web address, tentatively is set for launch in the first quarter of 2004.

GuideStar UK will be a separate British charity, said Buzz Schmidt, founder and chairman of GuideStar, which is based in Williamsburg, Va.

Schmidt said he was invited to develop plans for GuideStar UK by the London-based Institute for Philanthropy, a research and advocacy group.

A handful of private British funders supported a feasibility study on creating an online database for U.K. charities, and the Treasury made a matching grant equivalent to $4.75 million.

That grant, representing 60 percent of the new charity’s budget for its first three years, requires that GuideStar UK raise the remaining 40 percent privately, Schmidt said.

GuideStar UK already has landed a private grant that, with additional matching funds it requires, would meet most of the match the Treasury grant requires, Schmidt said.

GuideStar and its British counterpart will develop agreements on sharing data, marketing materials, logos and the GuideStar brand.

The two charities also are forming a strategic alliance, which Schmidt will oversee, to address common needs, share ideas and develop opportunities, including building similar systems in other countries.

Schmidt spent a week in Japan last July talking with a dozen different groups about GuideStar.

“There is continuing interest there,” he said. “There is serious interest on every continent.”

The chairman of GuideStar UK, which is seeking a British CEO, is Brian Smouha, retired head of the financial services practice for Deloitte & Touche in the U.K.

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