General Questions

Q: Does it cost anything to get listed on GuideStar? What type of organizations can get listed?

A: It’s completely FREE to get listed on GuideStar and claim and update your Nonprofit Profile. We automatically create profiles for 501(c)3 organizations who have filed as tax-exempt with the IRS, however, if you are a church or a religious organization, a government entity, or a nonprofit under a group exemption we are still able to list you on GuideStar--Click here to learn what’s required. 

Q: Can I receive donations through my Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar? Are there fees? How do I access these donations?

A: Yes! We are partnered with Network for Good to provide a donate button directly on your Nonprofit Profile. Click here to learn more.  

As for fees, GuideStar does not take a percentage of any donations. However, Network for Good retains 4.75% of each donation to cover processing costs.

Network for Good offers a DonateNow Lite account as a free service to nonprofits that receive funds through us. Through the DonateNow Lite account, nonprofits can see their donation history and any available donation details, as well as apply for EFT applications to receive funds via direct deposit instead of checks. You can register with Network for Good by entering your charity’s nine-digit Tax ID (EIN) number on the I Need to Register side of the following page: https://www.networkforgood.org/npo/MyAccount/Login.aspx

Q: When are new Seals of Transparency released? How often do you recommend updating your Nonprofit Profile? 

A: As part of our commitment to improving the data standard around nonprofit information, we change the requirements to earn a Seal of Transparency each year. To earn the most recent Seal of Transparency, you must fill out all required fields marked with a red asterisk (*). We release a guide on what’s new to show you what exactly you need to update. Click here to view the 2019 PDF.

We recommend updating your profile at least 1-2 times per year to keep your information fresh. While the time of year is relative to your organization, we recommend updating your profile at the beginning of the year, upon the completion of your Form 990, or before the giving season (late October, early November). That way your financials, yearly metrics, program & leadership information, and more are current and up-to-date for the 10 million users on GuideStar and millions more via our partner networks such as AmazonSmile, Network for Good, and Facebook.

Q: Can a Seal of Transparency expire?

A: Yes, your profile will expire and you will lose your Seal of Transparency if you haven’t published new information within two years. Click here to learn more. 

Gaining Access to Your Nonprofit Profile

Q: How do I become a manager for my Nonprofit Profile? Or grant someone else access to edit the profile?

A: If you are the first person to claim your profile, please click here for directions. 

If you currently manager your organization’s profile, you have the ability to add more managers and grant someone else access to edit. In fact, you can add as many managers as you’d like! There’s no limit. We even recommend adding a general email address, such as info@yournonprofit.org, as a manager to your profile. That way, no one will get locked out of your profile. Click here for directions. 

Bronze Seal of Transparency

Q: Is there a way to change your organization’s name on GuideStar? What is the difference between name and AKA/DBA name? 

A: Yes, you can change the name of your organization on your Nonprofit Profile within the Bronze Seal. Once you are signed in and on your organization’s Summary page, choose Bronze on the left-hand side of the page, then choose Names & Contacts and change the name of your organization in the field titled “Organization Name.”

An AKA/DBA (also known as or doing business as) is an alternative name for your organization. This isn’t required to earn a Seal of Transparency, however, if your organization is known by another name that what you filed with the IRS; for example, an acronym, main program, or subsidiary, you will want to list your AKA name so potential donors and funders can find you on GuideStar!

Q: What is an NTEE Code and should it match an organizations’ 990-Ns? 

A: An NTEE (National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities) Code is used to classify nonprofit organizations by cause area. We recommend matching the code(s) listed on your Form 990 or Form 990-N, however, you have the option to choose any NTEE code(s) that best fits your organization. You will be able to choose a primary code (the general category) and a sub-code (a more specific subset). For example, if you are an educational institution that provides scholarships to students, you would select primary code B80 (Student Services and Organizations) and sub-code B82 (Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards). Click here to see a full list of NTEE Codes. 

Silver Seal of Transparency

Q: Do you have to have your financials audited or is entering them sufficient to earn a Silver Seal of Transparency? 

A: No, you don’t need an audited financial statement to earn a Silver Seal. While it is the quickest option to earn a Silver Seal (and we highly recommend it), we understand that not all nonprofits undergo a formal auditing process. That’s why we have another option to display your financial information by manually entering basic financial information such as total revenue, total expenses, and assets & liabilities. So, you can either upload an audited statement OR manually input your basic financials; either option will earn you a Silver Seal.

Q: Can a nonprofit with assets less than one million earn a Seal? How can you earn a Seal if you’re a new organization?

A: Yes! No matter your revenue, expenses, or asset size you can earn a Seal of Transparency. 

If you have been operating for less than one year, you are able to earn a Bronze Seal of Transparency, which asks for basic information such as your mission, programs, & leadership. To earn a Silver Seal or above, you will need at least one year’s worth of financial information and to earn a Platinum Seal, you will need at least one year’s worth of annual metrics. 

Gold Seal of Transparency 

Q: Is there a character limit for the Charting Impact questions in the Gold Seal of Transparency?

A: Yes, there is a limit of 3,000 characters, however, we don’t require you to use all of them. We’re looking for 3-4 short paragraphs. We highly recommend that you keep your content bite-size and glanceable and allow space between each paragraph; that way no one is staring at a wall of text when viewing your profile. Plus, you can find content for the Charting Impact questions in a recent grant application, strategic planning document, or annual report. 

Platinum Seal of Transparency

Q: How many metrics are needed to earn Platinum and how many do you recommend adding?

A: To earn a Platinum Seal of Transparency, you only need one metric with data from the most recent year. We recommend, however, that you provide your top 3-5 metrics and give each metric 3-5 years’ worth of data. This will give your data both depth and breadth of information and show our users a trend in your progress and results. For more information, please view this article

Q: Is an external evaluation required to earn a Platinum Seal of Transparency? What is an example of a good evaluator? What type of document?

Uploading an external evaluation is optional—it’s not required to earn a Platinum Seal—but it’s recommended if you have one. By sharing, you add credibility to the metrics you share on your profile. 

An external evaluation is a document that speaks to an assessment of the quality of a program or the organization’s work overall, done by an independent evaluation professional or relevant expert. We do not recommend specific evaluators.

You can share up to 20 PDF files, which can be up to 20 MB each.

Other

Q: Does GuideStar use calendar year or fiscal year? 

A: Both. For fields related to financial information (i.e. the Silver Seal) we use the fiscal year. For all other sections, we use the calendar year.

Q: How do we get Facebook to recognize us as a nonprofit? 

A: To connect your Nonprofit Profile with Facebook, you will need to fill out Facebook’s on-boarding form to appear in searches. Their form can be found here.

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