GuideStar contributes technology to fed charity efforts

Federal employees who are thinking of donating to charities under the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) can turn to GuideStar for information on the organizations.

GuideStar, based in Washington, D.C., specializes in researching nonprofit organizations. It launched Gov@GuideStar today to make its information and online tools available to potential donors.

The Office of Personnel Management runs CFC from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15 each year. During that period, agencies can raise funds for OPM-approved charities that provide health and human services benefits worldwide.

Gov@GuideStar is a supplement to the information that OPM provides to potential donors, said Robert Ottenhoff, GuideStar’s president.

“What the Combined Federal Campaign gives participants is a couple of sentences on each organization," he said. "What GuideStar provides is very comprehensive information, some of it going back 10 years, on every nonprofit organization in the United States.”

The information GuideStar provides includes verification of the organization's nonprofit status, descriptions of its programs and activities, and as many as eight years of tax and financial records.

“It goes on for pages and pages and years and years," he said. "What we think will happen is a CFC participant will page through the catalog, find a charity that meets their interests and values, and then go to GuideStar to learn more about it before they make their decisions.”

In 2005, CFC recorded $268.5 million in pledged contributions, according to OPM. Federal agency offices run more than 300 individual campaigns worldwide each year.

The company providing services and tools that are normally reserved for "power users managing large amount of money," Ottenhoff said. Although the company typically sells Gov@GuideStar services, it is offering a free trial to users taking part in CFC, he said.

GuideStar launched the paid, government-specific product line in August.

After the 2006 CFC ends in December, GuideStar will evaluate how many people used the Gov@GuideStar trial, he said. "We’d like to continue to do this if it adds value and make it even more useful in the future," he added.

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