18 May, 2016

Since going live this morning, Benefacts has received some queries about nonprofits’ listings on the website. Common concerns are to do with the names of company/charity directors or trustees, and the availability and interpretation of financial data.

Read answers to these frequently-asked questions below.

Names of directors/trustees can sometimes be out of date
Benefacts acquires the names of the directors of nonprofit companies from the Companies Registration Office. At present, there’s a backlog in the CRO’s registration of this data which means that newly-appointed directors are not yet listed on Benefacts, or recently-retired ones are still reported as being members of their respective Boards. The CRO are aware of the problem. Until it’s resolved, Benefacts redacts the name of the Director on the nonprofit’s listing on benefacts.ie on the written request of the organisation.

Exceptionally, the date of appointment of a director may have been mis-keyed at source, which results in false information appearing on Benefacts. Where a non-profit company gets in touch to point this out, or where Benefacts can see a clear anomaly, it redacts the data pending clarification with the CRO.

Names of Charity Trustees are missing
Some charity trustees have contacted us to say they are disappointed not to see their names included in their charity’s listing on benefacts.ie.

Until it is satisfied as to the implications under data protection law, the Charities Regulation Authority has decided not to publish the names of charity trustees in the file of regulatory data about charities published on its website.

Since this is the source of charity data available to Benefacts, we are unable to provide trustee names for the time being, even though they are published by the CRA in the body of the Register of Charities itself.

Some people have offered to provide us directly with the names of their charity’s trustees, but unfortunately we cannot accept these disclosures – we rely on the Regulator to validate trustee names.

Financial data about some nonprofits is not available
There are a few reasons for this.

1. The non-profit is not incorporated.

In the case of most schools, religious organisations and sports bodies, Benefacts holds only limited regulatory information: they are not required to file financial data with any public regulator so long as they are not companies, or registered charities.

2. The nonprofit company is new.

Accounts don’t have to be filed for 18 months after a new company’s formation, so there’s no financial data to report.

3. The nonprofit is an unincorporated charity.

So far, the Charities Regulatory Authority is not making the financial statements of charities available to the public as downloadable files. Where the charity is incorporated as a company, Benefacts receives the financial statements from the Companies Registration Office. Benefacts’ policy is never to “scrape” or download other peoples’ data without their permission.

However many unincorporated charities have published audited financial statements on their own websites and where they specifically request this, we have entered the data from their financial statements into the Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits, and published it on their benefacts.ie listing.

4. The nonprofit has produced abridged financial statements.

Under the Companies Act, 2014 which came into force in June 2015, companies limited by guarantee are allowed to file abridged accounts under the same “smaller company” threshold rules as previously applied to for-profit companies. Abridged accounts contain only balance sheet financial data, which is insufficient to populate a benefacts.ie listing.

5. Benefacts is in discussion with the nonprofit in question about some aspect of its financial profile as presented on benefacts.ie. Pending the resolution of these discussions, Benefacts policy is to redact that part of the listing under review.