Impact Transparency Criteria

To analyze impact, we need public data from the nonprofit. To earn at least a third star, nonprofits must publish a basic set of data points that enable an estimate of programmatic impact. We search GuideStar and the nonprofit’s Form 990, annual report, financial statements and top-level website pages to find this data.

We recognize that at the moment many nonprofits will not have this data publicly available, and some may not have it at all. Our metrics are designed to be basic and universal enough that many or most eligible nonprofits ought to be able to collect them relatively easily. For example, we ask soup kitchens to report the number of meals served and emergency shelters the number of shelter nights provided. We believe reporting this data imposes a minimal burden and, where the data is available publicly already, no additional burden.

However, we have yet to conduct any education and advocacy and do not believe it is fair to hold nonprofits to this standard yet. We will begin implementing this rating with major nonprofits who we have directly asked for impact data.

Example: Data required from soup kitchens



Program activities

Short text field, typically <250 characters. We often extract
this from longer program descriptions.


City or county in which the program operates.


Most recent time period for which data is available, up to 3
years in the past.

Beneficiary population

Chosen from a standard list used by GuideStar, with
additional commentary if needed.

Number of meals served in year

Count. Sometimes we can impute from other data such as
daily attendance numbers.

Program costs

We separate out costs of the soup kitchen from costs for
any other programs operated by the nonprofit.

Beneficiary costs

Very rarely do beneficiaries from soup kitchens incur cost,
so this field is almost always $0.

Partner costs

Often soup kitchens source food from food banks. We
include the food banks costs to reflect these resources.
Occasionally programs are co-funded.