I’ve been surprised by the number of nonprofits I’ve talked to who don’t realize that their IRS Form 990 is online for the world to see at GuideStar. This website is incredibly important for any nonprofit seeking funds from foundations or other savvy donors. I know some foundation officers who say they check GuideStar before they even read a nonprofit’s grant application and if the report isn’t good, the application goes straight to the recycle bin.
GuideStar offers nonprofits a great (and free) opportunity to supplement their 990s. They call it a GIF — Guidestar Information Form. It lets nonprofits add text about their mission, programs, and accomplishments to the report that the site generates. Failing to provide GuideStar with this information is a big mistake.
For a small fee ($10), nonprofits can also post PDFs of their annual reports, brochures, etc. This is another wonderful way to reach potential donors, many of whom will go to GuideStar before going to an organization’s website.