GuideStar Case Study


In 1994, Arthur “Buzz” Schmidt, GuideStar’s founder, launched what was then called Philanthropic Research with a staff of five, at a time when scant information was available on the operations of U.S. nonprofits.  Initially hoping to write in-depth qualitative evaluation reports on the 400 biggest U.S. healthcare nonprofits, the organization pivoted, changing its goal and started building a database of the 50,000 largest U.S. nonprofits by income.  The idea was to collect as much information as was publicly available on nonprofits, including their Forms 990—an annual reporting return that all nonprofits, with the exception of religious institutions, are required to file—but also any other information that was available on areas such as leadership, management, and grant-making strategies.