GuideStar Receives $3 Million Strategic Investment toward $10 Million Capital Campaign

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Grant Anchors Transformational Capital Campaign to Fund Next-Generation Data Infrastructure for Nonprofit Sector

GuideStar 2020 Strategic Plan

With in-depth experience, an established brand, more than 100 distribution partnerships, and an entrepreneurial team, GuideStar plays a critical role in the health and success of the nonprofit sector,” said Victoria Vrana, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

GuideStar president and CEO Jacob Harold and Victoria Vrana of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation jointly announced a $3 million general operating grant from the Gates Foundation in support of GuideStar’s mission and new strategic vision – to provide better information about the nonprofit sector so people can make good decisions and drive innovation for greater social impact. The announcement was made during GuideStar’s Impact Call on Monday, November 10, in which Harold and GuideStar’s CFO, James Lum, detailed the organization’s operational, programmatic, and financial results in the third quarter.

“For 20 years, GuideStar has been one of a few central providers of social sector data essential to donors, nonprofits, policymakers, and others,” said Victoria Vrana, senior program officer, charitable sector at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “With in-depth experience, an established brand, more than 100 distribution partnerships, and an entrepreneurial team, GuideStar plays a critical role in the health and success of the nonprofit sector as a whole.”

The $3 million from the Gates Foundation is a significant investment in GuideStar’s future and marks the first milestone of GuideStar’s campaign to raise $10 million in transformational capital between 2014 and 2016. This is GuideStar’s largest grant since a $4.5 million gift in 2002.

“GuideStar is honored and thankful for the $3 million grant from the Gates Foundation,” Harold said. “In addition to acting as a vital investment in GuideStar’s future, it is a statement of confidence in our direction. Given the scale of our operations, this investment offers tremendous leverage. The combination of this gift and other promising conversations with additional funders gives our organization great momentum moving forward.”

Earlier this year Harold unveiled GuideStar’s new strategic plan, titled GuideStar 2020, to build the information scaffolding for social change to help ensure the nonprofit sector is capable of confronting the great challenges of our time. The strategic framework of GuideStar 2020 centers on strengthening three pillars that enable a community powered by better information and characterized by smart decisions, open feedback, and efficient learning: data collection, data distribution, and data innovation. GuideStar is ensuring that the organization reaches its transformational potential by developing new products, new tools, and new insight (data innovation); improving its systems for compiling data across multiple dimensions (data collection); and expanding its reach, depth, and interconnection (data distribution).

“We believe that the time has come in our sector to move beyond using basic validity and transparency information to build a robust system to share insight that drives performance and that improves the results we are getting for the people and causes we care about,” said Vrana while announcing the grant live on the Impact Call. “GuideStar is well positioned to be at the center of that transformation.”

In addition to the announcement of the Gates Foundation grant, Harold highlighted GuideStar’s other programmatic results during the Impact Call. Harold discussed the recently announced second phase of the Overhead Myth campaign; a new, first-of-its-kind initiative to collect nonprofit sector diversity data at scale; and the launch of GuideStar’s revamped foundation membership program. These initiatives are all examples of GuideStar’s work to expand its data innovation, collection, and distribution efforts, as outlined in GuideStar 2020.

CFO James Lum also reported on GuideStar’s financial results through the third quarter during the Impact Call. Lum reported lower year-to-date revenues coupled with higher expenses than the prior year. GuideStar is in an investment period, as it readies itself for the challenges of GuideStar 2020. The financial results did not yet reflect the grant from the Gates Foundation, as the first payment will come in Q4. Lum reinforced the importance of the Gates Foundation grant and funding in general as they allow GuideStar to invest beyond the limited time horizon of its own capital resources. GuideStar’s full financial results can be found in its webinar archives.

More than 1,000 people have participated in GuideStar Impact Calls this year. The Impact Calls have been featured in the Washington Post and Nonprofit Times for their effectiveness as GuideStar works to reframe nonprofit transparency by presenting information that is more timely, interactive, inclusive, and comprehensive.

For further information on GuideStar's results and outcomes and to register for its next Impact Call on February 23, 2015, please visit its impact page. To access the recording of this and previous Impact Calls 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, www[dot]guidestar[dot]org, 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, CFC #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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Gabe Cohen
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