Research findings:
nonprofit transparency pays off

Transparency matters

New research* reveals that transparent nonprofits received more contributions and were stronger organizations.

Villanova University and University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee researchers compared nonprofits that earned a GuideStar Seal of Transparency to those that did not.

Nonprofits that earned a Seal averaged 53% more in contributions the following year than organizations with no Seal.

The research also found organizations that elect to be more transparent had stronger performance across a range of governance, financial, and operational dimensions.

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Organizations with a GuideStar Seal of Transparency received 53% more in contributions

GuideStar’s research indicates value of Seals of Transparency

GuideStar has found that profiles with Gold or Platinum Seals get twice the views as other profiles.

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bar graph comparing profiles views of Gold or Platinum Seal profiles versus profile views of other profiles

Profiles with Gold or Platinum Seals are viewed 2x more

Donors want to give to transparent organizations

A new report shows that a nonprofit’s accomplishments are the number one factor in establishing donor trust.

According to’s report, the top reasons inspiring trust are the charity's accomplishments, reputation, and financials.

On the flip side, donors cited greed and high compensation, negative reputation, and lack of honesty and transparency as the most common reasons to distrust a charity.

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Earn a Seal of Transparency today by updating your GuideStar Nonprofit Profile for free. It allows your nonprofit to reach GuideStar's 10 million annual users and millions more via the 200+ philanthropic websites and applications that are powered by GuideStar data, such as AmazonSmile, Facebook, and Network for Good.

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*Erica E. Harris and Daniel Neely, “Determinants and Consequences of Nonprofit Transparency,” Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance. Erica Harris is a professor at Villanova University. Daniel Neely is a professor at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Professors Harris and Neely initially looked at data for 14,000 nonprofits on GuideStar. From that group, they selected more than 6,300 organizations to examine more closely. These nonprofits represented a range of missions and programs. The analysis revealed that as a group, nonprofits that earned a GuideStar Seal of Transparency in 2012/2013 averaged 53 percent more in contributions the following year compared to organizations that didn’t earn a Seal. Even when the researchers controlled for other factors, transparency still related most strongly to increased contributions. There’s no guarantee that earning a GuideStar Seal of Transparency will cause contributions to an organization to grow. This research indicates, however, that earning a Seal increases a nonprofit’s chances of gaining greater support. Although Professors Harris and Neely obtained the data for this research from GuideStar, GuideStar had no input into the analysis or findings.

© 2019, GuideStar