Why You Should Update Your GuideStar Profile


As a nonprofit leader, you’re probably familiar with GuideStar as a powerful source of information for potential donors, media, and community members. But if your nonprofit listing on GuideStar includes little more than your address, mission statement, and recent Form 990s, you’re missing out.

Nonprofit Quarterly recently wrote about the valuable free real estate up for grabs on GuideStar, and we wholeheartedly agree with their assessment. There are many reasons why you should take the time to update your nonprofit profile on GuideStar.

The IRS Form 990 holds a wealth of information on your nonprofit’s finances, but it doesn’t always show the complete picture. For example:

  • The IRS is notoriously slow, and information contained in your most recent 990 could already be outdated by the time it’s ready to be posted.

  • Financial information on the 990 is limited to those specific items that concern the IRS, so it doesn’t always show a complete picture of your finances.

  • IRS terminology can be dense and confusing to even the most dedicated donors. How many pages of your 990 do you think the average donor will really read?

In addition, the Form 990 is designed to help the IRS determine your compliance with the law - not to assure donors of your effective financial management. When potential donors research an organization, they may have many questions that your 990 simply can’t answer.

Information without context can be misleading. Assuming your prospective donors aren’t all certified public accountants, they may be unfamiliar with the scope and limitations of the 990, causing them to make assumptions based on incomplete information. By updating your GuideStar profile, you can tell the full story.

And best of all? Updating your profile is completely free. That’s something that accountants and nonprofit executives can both get behind!