A new website has been launched which aims to deliver greater public transparency on the work and funding of Ireland’s non-for-profit sector.
Benefacts.ie is a free online information portal containing data on 18,600 non-profit organisations.
The database includes information on all registered charities plus thousands of other NGOs, including education institutions, social enterprises and sports and professional bodies.
This is the breakdown of the charities by sector as of May 2016:
Image via: Benefacts.ie
Benefacts itself is a non-profit organisation and was established in 2014 to promote transparency and accessibility of Irish nonprofits.
Over the past two years, Benefacts has worked in cooperation with a variety of regulators, such as the Companies Registration Office and Charities Regulatory Authority, to gather publicly accessible data for inclusion in the database.
The kind of information that can be accessed about individual organisations includes names of directors and/or trustees, income and turnover, number of employees and sources of funding.
Benefacts.ie also identifies the distribution of nonprofits by location and sector, and provides overall tables of income sources.
Geographic Distribution of nonprofits | Image: Benefacts.ie
Based on reported financial information provided by 7617 Irish nonprofits, 48.49% of their total income in 2014 was derived from public sources. This amounts to €3.4bn.
The salaries of charity CEOs have caused controversy in recent years so the benefits of increased transparency in the sector are clear.
The database released this morning does not provide salary figures, however, as they rely on information provided by the organisations to various regulators.
Charities have not been required to disclose this information in their financial statements but that could change due to new standards being introduced this year.
Speaking at the launch today, Benefacts founder Patricia Quinn said: “We set out to build something which will transform the accessibility and transparency of a sector that has, until now, been hidden in plain view”.
“We present the maximum amount of available data in a neutral and impartial way, to support better-informed decisions, to help build public trust, and reduce the cost of doing business with government.”
The organisation actively encourages others to use the data and plans to grow the range of its database from other regulator sources during the next two years.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe emphasised the importance of the database.
“Greater openness, transparency and improved accountability are at the core of our vision for Benefacts and this database will provide Government with the infrastructure necessary to underpin a higher quality assessment of public spending”.
“I am strongly supportive of Benefacts and believe that it will significantly enhance the effectiveness of Government’s interaction with the not-for-profit sector, delivering major benefits to us all in terms of transparency, governance, regulation and policy making.”