First A Word about GuideStar And What We Do And Don’t Do
At GuideStar we aim to provide better data to help people make better decisions for better world. Each year, millions of people use GuideStar’s information to make decisions about nonprofits and the work they do. We strive to provide the highest-quality, most complete nonprofit information available.
We gather, organize, and distribute information about U.S.-based nonprofits. We then aggregate it into GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles, one profile for each organization in our database. Every nonprofit on our site is invited to update its profile for free and can earn a GuideStar Seal of Transparency. The amount of information a nonprofit shares determines which Seal of Transparency—Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum—it receives. A Seal indicates that an organization has provided a certain type of information; it is not an approval or endorsement by GuideStar.
GuideStar is not a watchdog. We do not manually review all self-reported information shared by organizations through their Nonprofit Profiles. We do take action when our users alert us to suspicious information. Keep reading to learn where our information comes from and what you can do to bring inaccurate or fraudulent information to our attention.
Where Does The Information on Nonprofit Profiles Come From?
Nonprofit Profiles are populated from multiple sources. We try to provide both objective and perceptual data to offer a full picture of an organization. Some of this information comes from government sources: nonprofits’ Forms 990, the IRS Business Master File, IRS Publication 78, and the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) lists.
Additionally, nonprofits are encouraged to update their profiles to supplement the IRS information and tell a more complete story. This is how a nonprofit can earn a Seal of Transparency.
What Do I Do If I Find Inaccurate Or Fraudulent Information on A Nonprofit Profile?
If you think a NPO has uploaded incorrect or inaccurate information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. From there:
- If the organization is in violation, we will contact the manager of the Nonprofit Profile and request the organization remove/correct the issue within 5 business days.
- If the information is not removed in 5 business days, GuideStar will remove the information from the profile.
- If the inaccurate information is in field that’s required to earn a Seal of Transparency, we will revoke the organization’s Seal of Transparency.
What Do I Do If I Believe An Organization Is Acting Illegally?
If you believe that an organization is acting illegally or fraudulently, you need to report it to the proper authorities, the IRS or your state attorney general’s office.
If you want to flag an organization as fraudulent and believe it is in violation of the IRS requirements for tax-exempt organizations, please submit a written complaint to the IRS.
Internal Revenue Service
Exempt Organizations Examination Division
1100 Commerce Street
Dallas, TX 75242
The IRS complaint should contain all relevant facts concerning the alleged violation of tax law.
For state governments, contact your state attorney general’s office.
Another resource available to you is the Better Business Bureau. The Bureau offers an inquiry and complaint filing procedure at: https://www.bbb.org/consumer-complaints/file-a-complaint/get-started
Finally, we also recommend writing a review on GreatNonprofits to alert others to potential red flags in this charity’s operations.
Does GuideStar Remove A Fraudulent Organization’s Nonprofit Profile?
As long as the organization remains tax exempt, we will retain its profile on our site, and any user can access the information. Only the IRS can revoke a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status. If the IRS revokes a nonprofit’s exemption, we note that information on the organization’s profile. Only GuideStar Pro, GuideStar Premium, and GuideStar Charity Check subscribers can access the profiles of revoked organizations.
If we’ve been alerted that legal action has been taken against an organization that holds a Seal of Transparency, we will immediately review any information the organization has provided through our Profile Update Program. We reserve the right to remove any information self-reported by the organization and any Seal of Transparency the organization has earned by providing this information.