For part 4 of this series, we’ll discuss how to share long-term goals and strategies on your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar—and how you can save time by plying this information from other documents, such as grant applications. That’s right folks, today you’ll be adding a pliers to your tool box!
Before we dive into the Gold Seal of Transparency, here’s a very brief recap of the first three parts of this series and the tools we’ve already acquired:
Part 1: We hammered out the basics—what is a GuideStar Nonprofit Profile and who in your organization should update it—and gained a measuring tape to measure your skills, resources, and available information before getting started with your profile.
Part 2: We started building the foundation for your profile—how to gain access to it—and gathered some nails (nuggets of information) that will help you earn a Bronze Seal of Transparency, thus getting your nonprofit’s story in front of millions of eyes.
Part 3: We learned how to keep your finances level, particularly how to separate your expenses into three major categories—program, administration, and fundraising costs—to earn a Silver Seal of Transparency.
The Gold Seal of Transparency
Today, we’ll get to the meat of your profile—sharing your long-term goals and strategies. This vital information helps donors and funders understand your goals and gives them confidence in where you’re headed, not just where you are now.
Why earn a Gold Seal? It could save you time on grant applications. If the grantmaker you’re applying to uses a major grants management software, such as Fluxx, Foundant, or MicroEdge, you’ll be able to autofill information from your profile into your grant application.
Plus, not only will you provide your organization’s vision for the future to GuideStar’s 10+ million visitors but you’ll also share it with the millions who use our partner sites and applications. Our more than 200 partners include AmazonSmile, Facebook, Network for Good—and Charity Navigator. If your organization is too small to be listed on Charity Navigator, earning a Gold Seal is a great way to get added.
What the Gold Seal asks for: Your long-term goals, strategies, capabilities, indicators of making progress, and accomplishments. Most likely, you’ve written this content before! Dig up your most recent grant proposals; strategy documents, such as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analyses; appeals to donors; or your annual plan. You’ll be able to modify that content and plunk it into your profile.
How long does it take to earn a Gold Seal? With the above documents handy, expect to spend around 30 minutes. If haven’t already written this kind of content, it will take longer—you and your colleagues will need to do some soul searching. We promise it’s worth it, however, as what you come up with can be the base for grant proposals, donor appeals, reports, and more to come.
What’s required? The Gold Seal consists of five Charting Impact questions. Each question has a 3,000-character limit, but you certainly aren’t required to write that much. We’re looking for three-four short paragraphs per question.
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while you complete the Gold section:
- Create space between paragraphs. Formatting isn’t available in the Gold section, so we highly suggest using the hard return (otherwise known as a paragraph break) to chop your text into smaller pieces. That way, potential donors aren’t staring at a wall of text.Remember, people on the Internet have the attention span of a goldfish, so you want to keep your content bite-size and skimmable. (See how I split up my paragraphs using line spaces? That’s an example of using the hard return.
- Get creative. You can also break up your content by using ALL CAPS for section titles and bulleting or numbering for additional information.
- As you answer these questions, look to the horizon and think three to five years down the road. You’ll present donors with a comprehensive plan while allowing yourself time to update your information.
You’ve certainly earned yourself that pliers for your toolbox. By extracting information from previous documents to earn a Gold Seal of Transparency, you’ll give donors and funders the full scope of your organization’s work, not just in the present but also in the future.
If you’d like to get a head start, you can download our worksheet on the five Charting Impact questions.
You can also use GuideStar Search to find organizations similar to yours that have earned a Gold Seal of Transparency. It never hurts to look at peer organizations as examples.
Best of luck on your updating journey!
If you have specific topics you'd like to discuss, questions, or are just plain curious about the GuideStar Seals of Transparency, please leave a comment below.
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