The scope of the Benefacts database

  1. Defining “nonprofits”
  2. What “nonprofits” includes
  3. Where Benefacts gets its data

Defining “nonprofits”

Benefacts uses an established international definition of civil society to mean organisations that do not form part of government (the public sector), or the private sector.

We use “nonprofits” or “nonprofit organisations” as shorthand for civil society organisations. We don’t call them companies because many are not incorporated; we don’t call them charities because many don’t fall within the definition of a charity in law, or they have not yet registered as charities.

A widely respected international research project came up with this way of defining civil society organisations: they are

  1. organised: with some kind of formality and institutional reality;
  2. private: institutionally separate from government;
  3. non-profit distributing: not returning any surpluses generated to members or owners;
  4. self-governing: in a position to control their own activities and have their own internal procedures for governance;
  5. voluntary: participation in these organisations must not be mandatory.

What “nonprofits” includes

This definition includes organisations of all kinds – entities established by statute, membership organisations, local and national organisations, religious and secular, small and large, incorporated and unincorporated.The definition also includes non-governmental, non-commercial bodies in civil society that may not customarily be thought of as belonging to the nonprofit sector – political and advocacy organisations, trade unions and professional associations.

The definition also includes non-governmental, non-commercial bodies in civil society that may not customarily be thought of as belonging to the nonprofit sector – political and advocacy organisations, trade unions and professional associations.

Where Benefacts gets its data

The data in the Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits comes from a range of public regulatory sources. During 2015, Benefacts began the process of cooperating with these to harvest data in the public domain, and during 2016 and 2017 we plan to extend the range of regulatory sources, and the kinds of data we get from them.

If you have looked for organisations that you can’t find on benefacts.ie, or if you think there are organisations that shouldn’t be included, please contact us – we’re interested in your view.