- Guidestar is an online non-profit company with one purpose. It publishes the Form 990 that most non-profits are required to submit to the IRS each year.
- A 990 is a legal doc which states the total expenses and income for a non-profit. It breaks the expenses down into sub-categories and even lists the salaries of the five highest paid employees and their benefits. The 990 also shows the various sources of revenue for a non-profit from programming receipts to investment income. Finally, a 990 lists all recipients for organizations who grants from the non-profit whether these were small gifts or very, very large ones. All 990s on Guidestar are in PDF format so they can be downloaded and/or printed for further analysis.
- Guidestar has a cool tool which enables people to search the hundreds of thousands of non-profits for any category which interests you. This makes finding your specific field of interest that much easier.
- For example: your church is working with nearby elementary schools and wants to find money to expand a literacy program. A Guidestar search on "children's literacy foundation" shows over 150 non-profits which have literacy as one of their interests. Not all of them write grants so further research is required. This is time-consuming but eventually you'll find a dozen or so foundations to which you will write a compelling grant proposal/request. You may not get much or as much money you want/need the first time you ask, but be persistent and over time you'll develop relationships with the foundations that will open some doors.
- Use Guidestar as a research tool to find local and national foundations which can provide additional resources for your efforts.