Greater Madison Nonprofit Directory FAQ

How are GuideStar Profile Levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) determined?

The levels are assigned according to how much information is voluntarily provided to GuideStar by the nonprofit about their organization. GuideStar gathers initial data from the IRS, which collects that data from all organizations throughout the country via tax forms. Nonprofits can then provide additional information to GuideStar to raise their profile level. For instance, Bronze level requires basic information such as the mission statement, description of programs, and geographic region served. Platinum requires the addition of further data and explanation of finances, goals and strategies, and progress and results (as determined by the nonprofit).

How do I create or update my GuideStar profile?

It's easy! Go to the GuideStar website and get started. 

What are NTEE Categories and Codes?

They comprise the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE), a system designed to categorize the central purposes and causes of nonprofits organizations, which, as defined by the IRS, are exempt from paying taxes on their income. For more information about the NTEE, visit the National Center for Charitable Statisics website:

What are IRS Subsections?

These are different categories of tax-exempt organizations that are listed in the tax code, primarily in the 501(c) section. In other words, these are the categories the IRS uses to determine the particular legal and tax status of any nonprofit. The bulk of nonprofits are categorized as 501(c)(3) organizations, which are public charities and private foundations. For more on how the IRS defines “charitable purposes,” see:

Can I search for organizations outside of the greater Madison area?

The Greater Madison Nonprofit Directory is intended to serve donors and nonprofits in our area, so the database is limited to the five Wisconsin counties that Madison Community Foundation primarily serves. Nationwide searches, however, can be done through GuideStar’s main publicly available database:

Why can’t I find the nonprofit organization I’m looking for in the directory, even though they are located within the greater Madison area?

First, as always, check your spelling when doing searches!

But second, it’s possible the organization you’re looking for is a subsidiary of a larger parent organization. If the subsidiary isn’t registered with the IRS – the primary source of data in this directory – as an independent nonprofit organization located in our area but instead operates under the legal tax status of a parent organization headquartered elsewhere, they won’t appear in this directory.

Third, if the organization you’re looking for is a church or other religious organization, it’s possible they are not officially registered with the IRS. Churches and other religious organizations that meet the standards of other tax-exempt organizations automatically receive tax-exempt status without having to register with the IRS. This means churches don’t have the burdens of paperwork that other nonprofits do, but it also means the IRS doesn’t necessarily have publicly available data on these churches unless they decide themselves to register with the IRS. For a helpful explanation of some of these dynamics, see:

As discussed in the question and answer above, if you can’t find an organization you’re looking for in our directory, try searching GuideStar’s national database:

Have more questions? Please contact Andy Davey.


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