The US GuideStar web site holds information on all 850,000 non-profit organisations recognised by the US Internal Revenue Service.

The real power of GuideStar lies in the wealth of information held on its database, captured through the IRS Form 990 (statutorily filed each year by more than 250,000 of the larger non-profits) and through GuideStar's own information form. Form 990 captures standardised regulatory information including financials, while the GuideStar form enhances this with qualitative statements on such things as accomplishments.

GuideStar is also an "information platform

powering other US web sites, including Network for Good, which facilitates online donations, and many web sites providing advice to donors.

The service allows any US user to do things in seconds that would take experts in the UK many costly hours. On that basis alone, I would argue the UK needs an equivalent information platform.

However, the services real potential lies with supporting current efforts to expand philanthropy, strengthen the role of the voluntary sector and modernise the regulatory environment.

Les Hems, director of research, Institute for Philanthropy, University College London


Produced by: Philanthropic Research, Inc.

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