Author: Julia Schroer

Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017. (LtoR) Adrienne Regan (Davy), Neil Pope (Millington Pope) and Faye Drouillard (The Giving Circle(s) of Amsterdam & Ireland) pictured at the launch of the inaugural annual Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017 in the Royal Irish Academy on Friday, 28th April. This benchmark report by Benefacts is the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of nonprofit organisations in Ireland, including registered charities. View the report at www.Benefacts.ie/analysis.

Faye Drouillard believes Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017 is a ‘public good’

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“This kind of data is a public good”

Faye Drouillard, Founder – The Giving Circle(s) of Amsterdam & Ireland, deemed the publication of the sector analysis report to be a positive step for the sector, and a very timely one.  She considers this information to be a public good; something that everyone has a right to know.

 

Read the Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017 here

Lucy Masterson welcomes data driven findings in Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017

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‘We now finally have real data….and real information’

Lucy Masterson, CEO of Charities Institute Ireland, attended our recent Sector Analysis launch and commented on how refreshing it was to have access to the most up to date information on the sector.  She felt this was long-anticipated and long overdue.

 

Read the Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis here

Benefacts Perspectives: Ivan Cooper’s insight on salary levels in the nonprofit sector

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“In the main, Irish nonprofit workers are not highly paid; only a tiny proportion of the people professionally employed in nonprofit organisations are paid more than €70,000 per annum.” #BeneFACTS17

Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy with The Wheel, considers salary levels in the nonprofit sector

While salary levels in charitable nonprofits are a legitimate area of public interest – as all financial matters in charities should be – they have received disproportionate attention in recent years. This has deflected from an appreciation of the key role played by nonprofits today, and the challenges they face.

The new financial reporting standard FRS 102 requires all companies to declare the number of employees who earn over 70k per annum. Benefacts’ analysis has shown that the proportion of employees in the nonprofit sector in this category is low relative to the size of the sector (1,800 out of 149,000 or around 1%) – and ten times lower than in the wider economy.

This finding is supported by the 2015 National Guide to Pay and Benefits in Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations which concluded that “pay rates in the community and voluntary sector are significantly below those of the private sector, particularly in relation to higher management grades”. These are the facts in relation to the nonprofit sector – it’s a low paid sector. Why? I believe it is related to the role played by nonprofits in service provision and the way that work is funded.

Ireland’s nonprofits play a crucial role in delivering services in healthcare, social care, community services, childcare, home supports for older people and people with disabilities to name but a few. About half of the funding for this work is raised and earned by nonprofits themselves (over €5 billion a year) – providing a massive subsidy to the cost of public services. The rest comes in the form of statutory service contracts and grants.

Is this the right way to be funding public services in 21st century Ireland? Arguably this approach has resulted in essential public services being delivered by chronically underfunded nonprofits doing their best to manage insufficient resources, compelled to employ an increasingly precarious, lower-paid workforce.

I believe it is time to open a sustained dialogue on the appropriate role of charitable nonprofits in public service provision. Charitable nonprofits will more than likely continue to perform a key role – but they must be adequately and securely funded and their work better integrated to ensure people receive the high quality and seamless services they are entitled to. And if those of us who work (paid or unpaid) in the nonprofit sector don’t lead this discussion, are we conspiring in sustaining a system that doesn’t deliver the best possible outcomes for everyone: service users, nonprofits and workers alike?

Ivan Cooper is Director of Advocacy with The Wheel and joined in 2005. He is charged with progressing The Wheel’s policy positions on cross-cutting issues affecting the community and voluntary sector. Formerly Administration and Funding Manager with the Crisis Pregnancy Agency, Ivan has worked in a number of positions in the public, private and community and voluntary sectors in Ireland and Scotland.

Read the Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis here

Benefacts Perspectives: Richard Dixon on why transparency matters for charities

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Welcome to Benefacts ‘Perspectives’ blog series. We’ve asked a group of thought leaders from the nonprofit sector and beyond to pick a finding from our 2017 Nonprofit Sector Analysis report, and develop it with reference to their own direct experience. We’ll be sharing their insights and reflections with you over the next few months.

“Notwithstanding the public demand for transparency, more than a quarter of non-profit companies chose in 2015 to publish abridged financial statements.” #BeneFACTS17

Richard Dixon, Chair of Charities Institute Ireland, wonders what’s going on.

There’s a pincer movement in charity reporting.

At one end, the number of charities publishing to the gold standard – Statement of Recommended Practice or SORP for charities – has increased to just under 400 (out of 8,000 or so charities, of which half are registered as companies). SORP is mandatory for charities in England, Wales and Scotland but remains optional in Ireland. A disproportionate number of the charities that publish to SORP standards in Ireland are those that generate funds outside of the jurisdiction: 40% of international aid organisations reporting in Ireland use charities SORP. In most other sectors, only about 10% choose this higher standard.

At the other end of the disclosure scale, there’s an increasing number of organisations who’ve chosen to publish abridged accounts, with the latest analysis showing that nearly a quarter of charities who have company registration choosing this route (a three-fold increase over the last couple of years).

First things first: any small company, including charities, is allowed to file abridged accounts. This means even though the company has adopted a full set of financial statements, they are allowed under company law to file a summary (little more than the balance sheet, the names of the directors, and the audit opinion) when they send it to the Companies Registration Office for publication. What’s missing is information about the income and expenditure – this means the reader gets only limited information about their financial profile.

But while they might be allowed to do this, you’d wonder why they would choose to.

Notwithstanding unprecedented public and media interest in accountability and transparency, in 2015 the boards of almost 1,000 charities deliberately chose to ignore one of the more obvious tactics at their disposal which would address issues around public confidence.

The preparation of an annual report, including a narrative on performance, sources of income and, for instance, details on governance arrangements, is an incredible opportunity to influence public opinion and inspire trust.

And I would have a personal (but yet to be investigated) proposition that there is a strong correlation between charities who assume the highest standards (CII’s Triple Lock approach to reporting, fundraising standards and governance standards for instance) and public confidence, income and, ultimately, impact.

Where’s the Charities Regulator in all of this? Thankfully, crystal clear – new reporting standards will ensure that all charities will be obliged to report to minimum standards – standards in excess of those required by abridged accounts. It can’t come quick enough.

Richard Dixon is Chairman of the board of the Charities Institute Ireland. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in Ireland, currently serving as Director of Public Affairs with Concern Worldwide.

Read Benefacts Nonprofit Sector Analysis 2017

Almost 20,000 Nonprofits in our New Website Release!

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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.