Guidestar.org blog chief: ‘Criticizing Turnaround Children wins us no friends’

Editor’s note: I proposed to Guidestar.org publishing on its blog site the critical piece about Turnaround for Children Inc.’s sore lack of transparency. Lindsay Nichols, who is Guidestar’s communications director, explains in this email why it’s too hot to handle.

Hi Ted,

Thanks so much for this. What an interesting – and distressing – read.

While it seems like this should certainly get some public attention, I’m afraid the GuideStar Blog isn’t the right place for it.  First, our audience is comprised completely of nonprofit professionals, and they don’t take kindly to disparaging one of their own – even if their own is clearly doing wrong.Lindsay J.K. Nichols                                                                                                                                                

Secondly, our focus is really on helping nonprofits become more effective and efficient – through tips and tricks, “to do” lists, case studies, and the like.

This is a story that doesn’t seem to have a lesson other than “be transparent” – which is something GuideStar has been preaching for nearly 2 decades now, so trust me, I feel your pain!

Finally, I wonder if the Huffington Post Impact blog (which has a HUGE readership), would be a better for this story.

They really are interested in digging in for social good. I don’t really have contacts there but I know they take guest submissions on a rolling basis, so that’s my best recommendation for you.

Thanks for thinking of us – and good luck! I’ll keep my ears open for you in case another appropriate venue pops up.

Best,

Lindsay J.K. Nichols

GuideStar USA, Inc.

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Ted Cohen responds:

Lindsay –

A reader has brought to my attention your comment that your “audience is comprised completely of nonprofit professionals.”

I thought the whole point of Guidestar’s focus on transparency was for the public’s benefit, not for your members.

If your audience is your own members, then what is the point of offering public subscriptions, either the free ones or the upgraded $2,000 memberships – and let’s not forget the libraries who have joined not for their own benefit but for that of their clientele?

How about potential donors surfing the site looking for ways to contribute to a good nonprofit? Aren’t they your real constituency?

Can you clarify?

-Ted

Ms. Nichols responds:

We have a variety of channels for our many audiences.

The GuideStar Blog and e-newsletter are for nonprofits. Our Facebook, Twitter, and Philanthropedia Blog are for donors.

Our emails are targeted to donors, nonprofits, journalists, funders, professional service consultants and financial advisors, and more. Our website is for everyone.

And our focus on transparency is for the benefit of everyone—not just donors, but for nonprofits as well, and social impact overall.

We’re thrilled that donors use our information when they’re trying to find a “good” nonprofit. In fact, 10 million visitors come to www.guidestar.org each year, and 98 percent use our information for free, which is part of our public service as a nonprofit, and one we pledge to continue.

 

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