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How to Use GuideStar Products
Getting the Most from GuideStar
Getting the Most from GuideStar
How to find and download the nonprofit information you need.
Written by Robin Burdick
Updated over a week ago

Welcome, library and educational users! 

This page will tell you about GuideStar, the data and tools available to you, and how to use the tools to find and download the nonprofit information you need.

What is GuideStar?

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. We gather and provide access to the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and accurate nonprofit information available. Our mission is to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving. GuideStar is a 501(c)(3) public charity.

GuideStar lists information on every nonprofit registered with the IRS as tax exempt, as well as data on former nonprofits. GuideStar obtains the information from the nonprofits themselves, the federal government, and partners in the nonprofit sector.

As of December 2017, GuideStar comprised:

  • 1.6 million active nonprofits 

  • 1 million historic (defunct or merged) organizations

  • >280,400 faith-based organizations

  • >140,000 nonprofits that have updated their information

What GuideStar data is available to me?

Each organization on GuideStar has a nonprofit profile. You have access to all information in every profile, including: 

  • Eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions

  • IRS subsection code, or type of exempt nonprofit. View the list

  • Address, phone website, and contact information

  • Mission, programs, goals, and results

  • Revenue, expense, and balance sheet data

  • All IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF (annual reporting forms) 

  • Board and staff leadership information

  • Compensation data

  • Independent contractors and their compensation

  • Principal officer and paid preparers

What tools are available to me?

Powerful search-and-find capability

  • Search for specific organizations

  • Search for groups of organizations by mission category or location

  • Use sophisticated filters to find exactly the nonprofits that interest you
    Save search criteria

  • Save organizations to a list (limit of 10,000 organizations per user)

  • Search for individuals in the nonprofit sector by name


  • Compare up to four organizations in a single view.  

Download capability

  • Revenue and expenses, balance sheet, employee, and board data for individual nonprofits

  • Lists of 55 pre-set fields of data for up to 1,000 nonprofits a month

Do I need a GuideStar account to access the data and tools?

Yes, you do. If you already have a GuideStar account, just log in via your library or school’s system. Use your current GuideStar user name and password. You need to log in via your library or school’s system because access is set up by IP address.

If you do not have a GuideStar account, create one by:

  • Visiting via your library or school’s system.

  • Clicking the “Create account” button at the top right of the GuideStar home page. 

  • Completing and submitting the form that pops up. 

  • Checking your email for a message from GuideStar. If you do not see the message, check your spam or junk folder. 

  • Clicking the link in the message to confirm your registration.

How do I use GuideStar tools?

Read through the following FAQs or use the links at the top of this page to jump to a specific question. Note: all answers assume that you are signed in on

How do I search for nonprofits?

  • Go to and click the Search link at the top of your screen. You will be taken to the GuideStar Search page.

  • You can search for a nonprofit by typing an organization name, EIN (Employer Identification Number), or keywords in the search bar. You can also filter by geography, Seal of Transparency level, cause area, IRS subsection, number of employees, and multiple income, expense, and asset filters.

a.  Sample Search: Items marked in red are the search filters used. Items marked in
     yellow are the keywords used and the number of search results found. Items
     marked in green are options that let you save, download, compare results, or sort
     search results by Relevance, Organization Name, Income, and Assets.

i.   You can select individual organizations or choose to download all results. 

ii.  **Remember, there is a limit of 1,000 organizations downloaded per month!

b.  You may use the Organization tab to filter by Seal of Transparency level and  
     cause area.

c.  You may also use the Financials tab to filter by income. To adjust your search, you
     can use the slider bar (marked by the red arrow) or enter specific income amounts
     by hovering over $0 and MAX. A box will appear beneath the slider bar, where you
     can enter an amount, for example, 5K-25M.

4. You can save All organizations on that page by clicking on the drop-down arrow
     (marked by the green arrow below),or you can select None from the drop-down
     and the organizations on that page will be removed from your saved organizations.

If I don't know the name of a nonprofit, can I search for an organizational leader or board member instead?

Yes, you can change the search bar option to People by clicking on the drop-down arrow next to Organization (marked by the yellow arrow below). Then, type the name of the organizational leader(s) or board member(s) from the organization you want to find. You may also use the People search filters, which can be found on the left-hand side of the screen. 

How do I save and download searched information?

  1. You can save or download data from the organization's nonprofit profile by clicking the Save and/or the Download icons at the top of the page marked by the red arrows below.

2. To find out how many organizations are in your download queue, click the drop-
    down arrow next to your name marked by the red arrow below.

3. Then click the "My Account" link marked by the green arrow below.

4. Once you are on your Account page, scroll down to My subscriptions under GuideStar Pro, you will see links for your Download Queue, Saved Organizations, Saved Searches, Saved cohorts and View Peer Analysis.

5. From the Download Queue, you can Manage Download Queue and view your
    Monthly Totals, Download History and Organizations Saved for Download

6. You are also provided with a list of Data Fields included in the Download.

How do I filter downloaded data?

  1. Once you have submitted your Saved Organizations list to download, you will see the messaging below and will receive an email when your download is ready.

2. Click the Download button (marked by the green arrow below). 

3. You can expand or delete the columns in the Excel spreadsheet to create the
     specific report that you want to generate according to your criteria. 

4. Here is an example of a filtered Excel report. 

How do I view and download a PDF Report and Forms 990 of the organization?

  1. To download a PDF report, click the PDF button in the top-right hand corner of its nonprofit profile. 

  2. To download a Form 990, click the Show Forms 990 button and select the year you would like to view and download. 

How do I view and download audited financial data?

  1. Scroll down to the Financials section of the organization’s nonprofit profile and click Download Audited Financials.

  2. You can also adjust the year of the financial data by clicking on the bar at the bottom of the scale.

3. You may also download financial data by clicking on Download Data, located
     at the top of each section of Revenue and Expenses, Balance Sheet and

Financial trends analysis sections. 

How do I download the letter of determination, Form 1023/1024, and five most recent years of officer and director compensation?

  1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s nonprofit profile.

  2. To download the letter of determination or Form 1023/1024, look on the right-hand side of the screen. If the document is available, you will see a link for Letter of Determination. Click on the link to download.

  3. To download the five most recent years of officer and director compensation, open the Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees tab. Click Download.

  4. Adjust the year to view and download the most recent five years' worth of data.

 How do I download the five most recent years of highest paid employee data?

  1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s nonprofit profile.

  2. To download the five most recent years of highest paid employee data, click on the tab titled Highest Paid Employees. 

  3. Adjust the year to view and download the highest paid employee data. 

How do I download the most recent year of the board of directors?

  1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s nonprofit profile.

  2. To download the most recent year of the board of directors, click on the tab titled Board of Directors. 

  3. Click the Download button located on the right-hand side of the screen.

What is the “GuideStar Charity Check” box at the top of the profiles?

Charity Check is our tool for verifying nonprofits’ eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions. The IRS has strict rules donors, private foundations, and sponsors of donor-advised funds must follow when making contributions, grants, or distributions to nonprofits. It also defines which sources of information these entities must use to determine eligibility.

Charity Check pulls information from the IRS-approved sources. The box at the top of a profile indicates that a nonprofit is eligible to receive contributions, grants or distributions or that more research is required to confirm an organization’s eligibility. The donor, private foundation, or donor-advised fund sponsor can print the report or save it electronically to document its due diligence.

What's next

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