Many donors verify an organization's tax-exempt status by accessing third-party charitable giving databases. The leading database for verifying tax-exempt status is GuideStar. GuideStar allows 501(c)(3) organizations, including GEL chapters and SIGs, to register and enter their information for access by potential donors. Participation is free.
GuideStar creates profiles for all non-profits by accessing their Form 990N filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, GuideStar uses the organization name, rather than the "DBA" field, so all participating GEL chapters and SIGs appear as "International Costumers Guild, Inc." with different mailing addresses.
To avoid confusion, participating GEL chapters and SIGs should create their own GuideStar account and update their basic profile information with the chapter or SIG name rather than "The International Costumers Guild Inc". This page provides basic instructions for creating a GuideStar account and updating the basic profile information.
To create a GuideStar account by going to the GuideStar home page, selecting "Create Account," and filling in the "New Users" information. Choose "Nonprofit Organization" as your organization type. If your chapter or SIG has a web hosting account, we suggest creating an email alias like "guidestar-admin" that forwards to several of your chapter officers. This will avoid having to update the email address as officers change, and provide a backup in case one officer is not available. All chapters and SIGs are entitled to a free hosting account through the ICG. See Getting Online for more information.
Once you have created an account, update your GuideStar profile using the "Updating Nonprofit Profile" link at the top of the GuideStar home page. This page gives you information about GuideStar profiles. Use the "Get started now" link at the top of this page to get started. Enter your chapter or SIG Employer Information Number (EIN) and select "Request permission." Next, fill in the information on the form.
The form asks for an email address and a website address. If you do not have an email address associated with your chapter or SIG, indicate by checking the box. If your chapter or SIG does not have a website, use its Facebook or other social media address instead. We strongly recommend that GEL chapters set up a website and an associated email address to give a more professional apperance as a non-profit organization.
GuideStar's nonprofit customer service team will review and process your request within 1 to 2 business days. You will receive an email with instructions at the address you used to register your account. Return to the GuideStar website, log in, and select "Update Nonprofit Profile." Select your chapter profile link, then select "Basic Information."
Change the organization name to the name of the chapter or SIG. This will distinguish it from the other chapters and SIGs and the ICG itself. Under "letter of determination," upload your GEL inclusion statement. You can publish the profile now, or provide additional information about your chapter or SIG to to potential donors and receive additional GuideStar benefits. You can also choose to have GuideStar update your information with the AmazonSmile program. Changes may take up to an hour to fully apply.
GuideStar offers three higher levels of participation, depending on how much information your chapter or SIG provides, These are described on their Update your GuildeStar Nonprofit Profile page. The Bronze level requires minimal additional information about your chapter or SIG. See the Silicon Web Costumers' Guild profile for an example. The higher Silver and Gold levels require more detailed infomation, and provide greater benefits such as access to free and discounted programs. The ICG participates at the Gold level. Chapters and SIGs can also choose to accept contribtions made through GuideStar.