We have just added 704 additional nonprofits to the Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits, which increases the number of Irish nonprofits you can find here from 18,586 up to 19,290.
Now included in the database are:
Our thanks to the Registrar of Friendly Societies and the Librarian of the Houses of the Oireachtas for their help in getting a lot of this data online for the first time!
Benefacts Open Datasets
As well as adding new organisations to the scope of the database, we’ve released an open dataset about all of the nonprofits in the Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits. We’ll be keeping this live which means it will get updated every day as we feed fresh data that we in turn acquire from 8 public sources.
The data is provided in “open” formats – this means that it can be universally and readily accessed and downloaded, and is also machine-readable. Benefacts Open Datasets can now be downloaded here, and we also publish daily updated files to the Government’s Open Data portal.
Benefacts.ie is now 6 months live
Since going live in May 2016, more than 25,000 unique visitors have accessed our site for data about Irish nonprofits. We’re marking the anniversary with some design and content updates to the website.
Tell us what you think
We’ve updated the homepage to make it more user-friendly and we have further developments to the website planned in coming months – watch this space!
We are always interested in your thoughts about our website please tell us what you think of what you’ve seen so far and also stay tuned as we are rolling out a user survey next week.
For regular updates from, make sure to follow us on Twitter, join the discussions on LinkedIn and subscribe to our e-newsletters.
Why have some nonprofits chosen to adopt Charities SORP as a reporting standard when it isn’t yet mandatory in Ireland? And what is Charities SORP anyway?
Financial reports are a universally accepted way of assessing the health and well being of a company. Financial reporting standards are mandated in law (the Companies Act, 2014), and provided by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) for the UK and Ireland.
Financial reporting gives business owners an account of the use of their funds showing movements in the value of the assets, the cost of sales and any profit from activities. Nonprofit companies also have to provide an account of the business but face unique challenges. Rather than shareholders, they have stakeholders. Nobody owns the assets – the nonprofit company sets out how these assets have been used to realise the best interests of the company’s beneficiaries or purposes.
Devised by a specialist Committee established by the FRC, the Statement of Recommended Practice (or SORP) for Charities provides a structured way for charities to provide an account of their business. The Charities SORP provides information in a way that reflects the particular characteristics of charities.
Meeting the needs of stakeholders
As well as the usual measures of financial performance, the trustees of a charity need to provide a much greater level of analysis to stakeholders. This covers:
- How the charity deployed its resources in the course of the year to meet the needs of beneficiaries and other stakeholders (set out in the Trustees’ narrative report)
- What were the charity’s sources of income and was any of it restricted to a particular purpose or purposes
- How much of the charity’s funds were spent on charitable purposes, and how much on other costs (like governance overheads or fundraising costs)
- The remuneration profile of higher-paid staff
- How the charity is safeguarding its assets
Voluntary or Mandatory?
Even though the SORP for charities is not yet mandatory in Ireland, it is already used by 325 Irish charities on a voluntary basis. It is strongly recommended by lead agencies like Charities Institute Ireland, Carmichael Centre and The Wheel.
It’s widely expected that the Charities Regulator will soon mandate Charities SORP for charities in Ireland, meaning it will no longer be a voluntary standard.
For this reason, charities in Ireland should take a particular interest in the current round of consultation being led by the FRC Committee on Charities SORP, which includes three participants from Ireland.
The Committee are currently seeking views on suggestions to improve the Charities SORP – the closing date for submissions is December 11th.
For further details on financial reporting for this sector, or to learn more about individual organisations, explore our database here.
Benefacts’ office is very busy these days because the period between September and December is when 75% of Irish nonprofit companies are required to file their annual financial statements. That’s because most have a financial year-end of 31st December. Companies are allowed nine months to prepare and adopt their accounts, have them externally audited, and present them to an annual general meeting of their members before filing them with the Companies Registration Office, which is where Benefacts gets them – they are public documents.
Audited financial statements are an extremely important source of data in the Benefacts Database of Irish nonprofits, because they have been verified as providing a true and fair view of the organisation’s finances. Benefacts uses them to find details of a nonprofit’s income, expenditure, assets and liabilities, as well as information about the numbers of employees, payroll costs, and other information of wide public interest.
So far, our team of financial analysts have digitised the contents of the 2015 financial statements for almost 5,000 nonprofits: our plan is to release the full set for 2015 in a major update to the database which will be published in Spring 2017.
A new trend that has given us cause for concern is the high number of nonprofits – including many that rely on public finding – which have elected to provide just a summary of the financial statements, in the form of “abridged” financial statements. Others have chosen to file accounts that have not been audited. Until last year, companies limited by guarantee were not permitted to file abridged or unaudited financial statements, but when the Companies Act 2014 made the reporting threshold for smaller companies available to all companies (including not-for-profit ones), many chose to take advantage of this. This means Benefacts is not able to present an analysis of their finances, and we report this on their Benefacts listing.
In fact, compared to this time last year, we have seen a four-fold increase in the number of nonprofits filing abridged accounts. As we write this, in excess of 20% have filed abridged accounts. This means that the company has chosen to put only very limited information about their income and expenditure in the public domain.
More positively, at the other end of the disclosure spectrum, about 5% of all nonprofits (9% of registered charities) have voluntarily elected to adopt best practice standards in financial reporting – the charities statement of recommended practice (or SORP). See below for a list of nonprofits that adopted the Charities SORP for their 2014 financial statements.
Advocates for greater transparency in charity accounting – including the incoming CEO of the Charities Institute of Ireland Lucy Masterson and the Charities Regulator John Farrelly – have encouraged charities that receive public funding to adopt the highest standards of public disclosure in publishing their annual accounts, and in fact a recent call for submissions from the Regulatory Authority, invites interested members of the public to comment on proposed new public reporting standards. Click here to review Benefacts’ own submission.
Tune in next week when we’ll be taking a closer look at SORP and some other current initiatives in this area.
Nonprofits that Adopted Charities SORP in 2014