12 April, 2016

Welcome to the new Benefacts website.

In March 2015 we started to develop this database and website, and it has been a busy year.

Of course, we didn’t start from scratch. This project stands on the shoulders of pioneering work done in Trinity College Dublin ten years ago by the Centre for Nonprofit Management there, and owes a lot to the many sector leaders who have promoted the cause of greater transparency and higher standards of disclosure among nonprofits in Ireland.

We are inspired by the visionary folk at Guidestar. They first developed the proposition that the raw compliance data which nonprofits have to provide to satisfy government regulators could be converted into valuable intelligence and made to work harder in the interests of the sector and all of its stakeholders. They are a guide star indeed.

Some of us go back a few years with this project – it started life in 2008 as a collaboration with nonprofit leaders around Europe to see whether the Guidestar model developed in America would fly in other parts of the world. In fact, there are several parallel initiatives including one in Belgium and another in Israel, and the idea of re-using regulatory data more generally has become part of the accepted norm, thanks not least to initiatives of the European Parliament, open data advocates, activists and analysts.

We caught a wave of support in Ireland in 2014, thanks to the Irish Government’s commitment to open government, and its programme of administrative reform which includes improving transparency, and using technology to reduce administrative burdens and improve data sharing.

Two leading philanthropies, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Ireland Funds joined forced with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to co-fund the project 2015-2017.

We hope to repay their confidence by building something that is indispensable to the future well-being of all civil society organisations in Ireland – a trusted repository of reliable information, presented impartially and to a high standard of quality and consistency.

Stay with us on the journey!