GuideStar Library Services User's Guide

Document created by communitymanager Administrator on Dec 13, 2017Last modified by communitymanager Administrator on Jul 13, 2018
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Getting the Most from GuideStar

Welcome, library and educational users! This page will tell you about GuideStar, the GuideStar database, GuideStar data and tools available to you, and how to use the tools to find and download the nonprofit information you need.




What is GuideStar?

GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. We gather and provide access to the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and accurate nonprofit information available. Our mission is to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving. GuideStar is a 501(c)(3) public charity.


What is the GuideStar database?

The GuideStar database is a repository of information on every nonprofit registered with the IRS as tax exempt. It also contains data on former nonprofits as well as many organizations not registered with the IRS but recognized by the IRS as exempt, such as faith-based organizations. GuideStar obtains the information from the nonprofits themselves, the federal government, and partners in the nonprofit sector.

As of December 2017, the GuideStar database comprised:

  • 6.1 million active nonprofits
  • 1 million historic (defunct or merged) organizations
  • >280,400 faith-based organizations not registered with the IRS
  • >140,000 nonprofits—some registered with the IRS, some not—that have updated their information


What GuideStar data is available to me?

Each organization in the GuideStar database has a Nonprofit Profile. You have access to all information in every profile, including:

  • Eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions
  • IRS subsection code, or type of exempt nonprofit. View the list
  • Address, phone, website, and contact information
  • Mission, programs, goals, and results
  • Revenue, expense, and balance sheet data
  • All IRS Forms 990, 990-EZ, and 990-PF (annual reporting forms)
  • Board and staff leadership information
  • Compensation data
  • Independent contractors and their compensation
  • Principal officer and paid preparers



What tools are available to me?

  • Powerful search-and-find capability
    • Search for specific organizations
    • Search for groups of organizations by mission category and/or location
    • Use sophisticated filters to find exactly the nonprofits that interest you
    • Save search criteria (requires free GuideStar account)
    • Save organizations to a list (requires free GuideStar account; limit of 10,000 organizations per user)
    • Search for individuals in the nonprofit sector by name


  • Comparison. (requires free GuideStar account). Compare up to four organizations in a single view.
  • Download capability. (requires free GudieStar account) Download:
    • Revenue and expenses, balance sheet, employee, and board data for individual nonprofits
    • Lists of 55 pre-set fields of data for up to 1,000 nonprofits a month



Do I need a GuideStar account to access the data and tools?

No and yes. You do not need an individual GuideStar account to search the database and to access the GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles, as long as you visit via your library or school system. You do, however, need a GuideStar account to use the save search criteria, save organizations, comparison, and download tools.


If you do not have a GuideStar account, create one by:

  1. Visiting via your library or school’s system.
  2. Clicking the “Create account” button at the top right of the GuideStar home page.
  3. Completing and submitting the form that pops up.
  4. Checking your email for a message from GuideStar. If you do not see the message, check your spam or junk folder.
  5. Clicking the link in the message to confirm your registration.


How do I use GuideStar tools?

Read through the following FAQs or use the links at the top of this page to jump to a specific question. Note: all answers assume that you are signed in on

How do I search for nonprofits?

  1. Start by watching this short video:The New GuideStar Search
  2. Go to and Click the Search link the dark blue toolbar at the top of your screen. You will go to the GuideStar Search page.
  3. You can search for a nonprofit by typing an organization name, EIN (Employer Identification Number), or keywords in the search bar. You can also filter by geography, GuideStar Nonprofit Profile level, cause area, IRS subsection, number of employees, and multiple income, expense, and asset filters. 
    Sample Search: Items marked in red are the search filters used. Items marked in yellow are the keywords used and the number of search results found. Items marked in green are options that let you save, download, compare results, or sort search results by Relevance, Organization Name, Income, and Assets.
    1. You can select individual organizations or choose to download all results. (A free GuideStar account is required to use the download tool.)
    2. **Remember, there is a limit of 1,000 organizations downloaded per month!

      1. You may use the Organization tab to filter by GuideStar Nonprofit Profile level and cause area.
      2. You may also use the Financials tab to filter by income. To adjust your search, you can use the slider bar (marked by the red arrow) or enter specific income amounts by hovering over $0 and MAX. A box will appear beneath the slider bar, where you can enter an amount, for example, 5K-25M.

    1. You can save All organizations on that page by clicking on the drop-down arrow (marked by the green arrow below), or you can select None from the drop-down and the organizations on that page will be removed from your saved organizations.

    If I don't know the name of a nonprofit, can I search for an organizational leader or board member instead?

    Yes, you can change the search bar option to People by clicking on the drop-down arrow next to Organization (marked by the yellow arrow below). Then, type the name of the organizational leader(s) or board member(s) from the organization you want to find. You may also use the People search filters, which can be found on the left-hand side of the screen. 



    How do I save and download searched information?

    You can save or download data from the organization's Nonprofit Profile by clicking the Save and/or the Download icons at the top of the page marked by the red arrows below. Note: a free GuideStar account is required to use this.



    To find out how many organizations are in your download queue, click the drop-down arrow next to your name or "Hi" marked by the red arrow below.


    Then click the "My Account" link marked by the green arrow below.


    In the GuideStar Premium Pro section, you will see links for your Download Queue, Saved Organizations, Saved Searches, and View Comparison Set marked by the red arrow below.


    From the Download Queue, you can Manage Download Queue and view your Monthly Totals, Download History and Organizations Saved for Download.


    You are also provided with a list of Data Fields included in the Download.


    How do I filter downloaded data?

    Once you have submitted your Saved Organizations list to download, you will see the messaging below and will receive an email when your download is ready.


    Click the Download button (marked by the green arrow below). 


    You can expand or delete the columns in the Excel spreadsheet to create the specific report that you want to generate according to your criteria. 



    Here is an example of a filtered Excel report. 


    How do I view and download a PDF Report and Forms 990 of the organization?

    1. To download a PDF report, click the PDF button in the top-right hand corner of its Nonprofit Profile. 
    2. To download a Form 990, click the Show Forms 990 button and select the year you would like to view and download. 


    How do I view and download audited financial data?

    Scroll down to the Financials section of the organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile and click Download Audited Financials.

    You can also adjust the year of the financial data by clicking the drop-down menu displaying a year, located above the Revenue and Expenses section.


    You may also download financial data by clicking the Download button, located beneath the Revenue and Expenses Balance Sheet and sections. 


    How do I download the letter of determination, Form 1023/1024, and five most recent years of officer and director compensation?

    1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile.
    2. To download the letter of determination or Form 1023/1024, look on the right-hand side of the screen. If the document is available, you will see a page icon next to the document's name. Click the document name to download.
    3. To download the five most recent years of officer and director compensation, open the Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees tab. Click Download.
    4. Adjust the year to view and download the most recent five years' worth of data.  


    How do I download the five most recent years of highest paid employee data?

    1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile.
    2. To download the five most recent years of highest paid employee data, click on the tab titled Highest Paid Employees. 
    3. Adjust the year to view and download the highest paid employee data. 



    How do I download the most recent year of the board of directors?

    1. Scroll down to the Operations section of the organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile.
    2. To download the most recent year of the board of directors, click on the tab titled Board of Directors. 
    3. Click the Download button located on the right-hand side of the screen. 



    What is the “GuideStar Charity Check” box at the top of the profiles?

    GuideStar Charity Check is our tool for verifying nonprofits’ eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions. The IRS has strict rules donors, private foundations, and sponsors of donor-advised funds must follow when making contributions, grants, or distributions to nonprofits. It also defines which sources of information these entities must use to determine eligibility.


    GuideStar Charity Check pulls information from the IRS-approved sources. The box at the top of a profile indicates that a nonprofit is eligible to receive contributions, grants or distributions or that more research is required to confirm an organization’s eligibility. The donor, private foundation, or donor-advised fund sponsor can print the report or save it electronically to document its due diligence.



    What if my question wasn't answered here?

    Create a support case.