Non-profit information provider GuideStar last week launched GuideStar Premium 2.0, which includes the addition of an organization download and a people search.

Users can now download non-profit information from the GuideStar database into an Excel file. They can select up to 17 fields of information, such as organization address, National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) code, total revenue and total expenses. Up to 5,000 records a month can be downloaded. The people search feature allows subscribers to search the GuideStar database for individuals by name. From the collection of more than 3.3 million non-profit officers and employees, users can locate a person's organization, title and compensation. Users can also identify relationships between organizations. According to GuideStar officials, the new features were creating in response to customer demand.

A free upgrade is available for current GuideStar Premium subscribers. The service is $100 a month or $1,000 a year for new subscribers. Journalists receive 50 percent off an annual subscription, with IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) members receiving discounts of 70 percent to 80 percent, depending on the circulation or market size of their publication.

It's very interesting and very smart for GuideStar to offer such incentives to journalists. It's somewhat surprising that other directory and database publishers don't do the same. Journalists are viral marketing agents who can tout a product more effectively than a traditional marketing campaign. They have tremendous reach and influence on many individuals; and their praise is certainly genuine. It might not be free, but this is a very clever way in which to (subtly) market a product line.