'Transparency' website launched for not-for-profit sector
An online database aimed at improving transparency for charities and groups in the not-for-profit sector has gone live today.
Benefacts.ie is a database of 18,600 Irish non-profits which allows the public to search for financial, regulatory, and governance data about an entire sector that employs more than 100,000 people and turns over €7bn a year.
It includes all registered charities and thousands of other NGO’s including education institutes, sports and professional bodies, and social enterprises.
Previous to this website a large amount of information about non-profit organisations was already in the public domain, but scattered across many locations.
This was because most organisations had to file governance and financial information with different authorities every year, ranging from the Companies Registration Office, the Charities Regulatory Authority, and Revenue.
With the cooperation of these bodies, and under the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations, Benefacts.ie brings this information together in one database.
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister, Paschal Donohoe, today officially launched www.benefacts.ie at the offices of the Irish Architectural Archive on Merrion Square.
“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,” he said.
Patricia Quinn, the founder and MD of Benefacts, said accessibility and transparency were core to the database.
“We present the maximum amount of available data in a neutral and impartial way , to support better inform decisions, to help build public trust, and reduce the cost of doing business with government,” she said The database will also support the delivery of a number of key objectives of the Public Service Reform Plan.
Benefacts will also be of use to people working in the not-for-profit sector who have argued in the past that the cost of doing business with the government is a hidden and very costly burden. For example, a medium-sized social housing charity has to make an annual return to Revenue, another annual return to the Charity Regulator, another to the Companies Registration Office, and another one to the Housing Agency.
They also make a return to the voluntary standards monitoring bodies for the Best Practice Standards on Fundraising, and the Governance Code.
Benefacts wants to change this, by building online ‘tell me once’ solutions that will eliminate or at least reduce costly duplication.