Beginning January 1, 2020, Candid will require new documentation for nonprofits that wish to be added to the GuideStar database but are not in the IRS Business Master File (BMF), the IRS’s definitive record of tax-exempt organizations. At that time, we will also begin to remove organizations that we added under our previous procedures and that have not provided the new documentation. Removal from GuideStar means that these organizations will not appear on our site and may not appear on our partner sites, such as AmazonSmile, Facebook, and Network for Good.

New requirements

Only the following documents will be accepted to verify a nonprofit’s tax-exempt status for listing in the GuideStar database:

IRS letter of determination. Visit “Applying for Tax-Exempt Status” on the IRS website for instructions on obtaining a letter of determination.


Certification that your organization is exempt under a group exemption. You will need to provide two (2) documents:

1. A copy of an IRS-issued document with the name and EIN of your organization pre-printed on it. Federal IRS EIN Issuance or EIN Verification letters are both acceptable documents. Self-certifying documents will not be accepted.

2. A copy of the letter from the parent organization verifying your organization's inclusion as a subordinate in good standing under its 501(c)(3) group exemption with the IRS. Letter must fit the following specifications: 

  • Includes the name, address, and EIN of your organization
  • Signed by an authorized representative of the parent organization. The signature must include the signer's printed name and title.
  • Must be dated no older than six months at the time of submission to Candid.
  • Please provide in non-editable PDF format. Word documents are not acceptable. Links to web documents are not acceptable

Email this documentation to


Why is Candid changing its criteria for listing organizations? Is it because Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to become Candid?

We periodically review the criteria for listing organizations in the GuideStar database (in other words adding them to GuideStar) and displaying that information publicly via a Nonprofit Profile. That process was underway when we became Candid and has continued since then. 

In recent years, the U.S. nonprofit sector has moved toward greater rigor in identifying tax-exempt organizations and ensuring information about them comes from authoritative sources. The change in our policy for adding organizations reflects this evolution.

My organization is not required to apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status. Do we still have to provide you with a letter of determination or documentation that we’re covered under a group exemption?

If you want to be listed on GuideStar, yes. We realize that houses of worship, independent ministries, governmental organizations, and other nonprofits do not need to apply for tax exemption. To ensure the integrity of GuideStar’s information, however, we need to rely on definitive documentation about your organization’s tax-exempt status, either a letter of determination from the IRS or a group exemption letter.

What is a group exemption?

A group exemption is the IRS’s recognition of a parent organization and its subordinates as tax exempt. A group exemption letter has the same effect as an individual exemption letter except that it applies to more than one organization. See IRS Publication 4573 for more information.

Organizations that have a group exemption include the American Cancer Society, Ducks Unlimited, Mayo Clinic, Military Order of the Purple Heart of the USA, and the United Methodist Church. 

What happens if we don’t provide the documentation mentioned at the top of the page?

Eventually, we will remove your organization from GuideStar. We will begin that process in January 2020.

How can we keep our organization on GuideStar?

Send the documentation specified at the top of this page to

Do we have to wait until January 2020 to send the documentation?

Not at all! One of the reasons we are announcing the policy change now is to give nonprofits as much time as we can to acquire the documentation they need to stay listed on GuideStar.

Does it cost money to apply for tax exemption?

Yes. The IRS has published the fees on its website. 

Once we submit our application for exemption, how long will it take to receive a response from the IRS?

It depends on which application form you file. See “Where’s My Exemption Application?” on the IRS website for more information.

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