News

News

Less doesn’t equal more in nonprofit disclosure

Filing of abridged accounts by nonprofits rose again in 2018

40% of registered charities filed abridged accounts for 2017.

For non-charities the level was 56%.

Filing of abridged accounts by nonprofits has almost doubled

Benefacts latest analysis shows that since the filing regulations changed, the number of nonprofits submitting their accounts in abridged form to the CRO has almost doubled, from 27% in 2015 to 48% in 2017.

Use Benefacts new advanced search facility to review the list of companies that filed abridged accounts. Click here to see the latest list of abridged accounts, and charity companies that filed abridged accounts.

What are abridged accounts?

Since the Companies Act was changed in 2014, nonprofit companies can avail of the same filing exemptions as privately-owned companies. More and more choose to do so.

By law, every company must produce a directors report and full set of financial statements and present these to an annual meeting of its members/its owners. After that, the members of the company decide the form in which they share it with the rest of us.

The new rules mean that once the full accounts have been adopted at the AGM, they may be filed in a summary or “abridged” form. Abridged accounts include the Directors and Auditors’ report, the balance sheet and notes to the accounts, but exclude the income and expenditure statement.

Who cares?

The transparency of charity accounts is a matter of public interest. By concealing information about their income and expenditure, more than 1,500 charity companies – including those that rely on public funding – are giving us less than the full picture about where their money comes from and what they do with it.

Smart nonprofit Boards will be asking not “how little can we get away with reporting?” but “how can we use our annual report to communicate better with our stakeholders?”.

The reality is, full accounts are an integral part of any due diligence research. They’re used by prospective donors, government funders, volunteers and people considering serving as directors on Boards. They’re accessed more readily than ever before now that Benefacts publishes detailed information derived from them on this website.

Another burden of regulation on nonprofits?

On the contrary. The Charities Act provides that charities which are also companies don’t have to file twice. They just have to send their accounts to the CRO which in turn forwards them to the Charities Regulator.

The cost of audit is the same whatever the form in which the accounts are filed. In fact, it’s surprising so many nonprofits take the trouble to publish abridged accounts to the Companies Registration Office when the terms of their funding contracts require them to make the full accounts available to their funders.

Less isn’t more – act now to reverse the trend

Most nonprofits have a financial year-end of 31st December, and 2018 audits are now being planned or are underway already. Now is the time to plan for a great annual report including a clear account of what you are doing and why it’s important, and the income and expenditure that supports this.

Make your views known

For charities, even charity companies, higher reporting standards will soon be regulated for because a new financial reporting standard is not far off. In fact a call for submissions has been made on behalf of the four regulators of charities in these islands – view it here, and consider making a submission before the 4th February deadline.

Celebrating good governance and Third Sector impact

Congratulations

Two of Ireland’s leading nonprofit advocacy organisations held their annual award ceremonies recently, celebrating the best of nonprofit disclosure, and charity impact.

Use the links below to learn more from Benefacts about the winners of Carmichael’s Good Governance Awards, and the Wheel’s Charity Impact Awards.

Carmichael Good Governance Award Winners 2018

Care Alliance
Aidlink
Camara Education
CMRF Crumlin
Trócaire
Proudly Made in Africa
Irish Girl Guides
The Care Trust
Extern Ireland
Central Remedial Clinic

The Wheel Charity Impact Awards

The Rainbow Club for Children with Autism
SpunOut.ie
Barretstown
Spraoi Agus Spórt Family Centre
Irish Girl Guides
Clare Haven Services

And tell us how we’re doing

Every year around this time, Benefacts asks for feedback from the users of our free public website. Your views are very important in helping us to develop and improve our services so if you have some time before 16th January, follow this link to give your views.

From all of us at Benefacts, have a happy Christmas.

We welcome your views on Benefacts

Benefacts is planning for the future, and we’d like your help.

This time last year, we asked for your views about our free public website, and based on that feedback, we took steps to improve the functionality of the site and the accessibility of the data.

You can now use the new advanced search facility on benefacts.ie to isolate nonprofits by geography, institution type, classification, charitable purpose, financial scale and/or regulatory status. People are using this facility, for example, to discover charities that qualify for tax efficient gifts, or to analyse the profile of compliance with best practice standards in financial reporting or governance.

Now we’d like to hear from you again, whether you are a regular user or an occasional visitor. Why do you visit the website? What do you like/what don’t you like about the experience? How could we improve it further?

Go to the consultation website at https://consult.benefacts.ie and make your views known before 21st December. This survey is being managed for us by CiviQ – they will be preparing an analysis of your views and in a further round of consultation will invite you to participate in a new type of survey on the views that everyone has shared.

We’re especially interested to hear from people who visit the site often, use the free public API, and/or regularly take print-offs of the content or download documents. How does Benefacts support your work? Is there anything more you think we could do to help make the work of Irish nonprofits even more transparent and accessible?

We hope you find this a helpful opportunity to shape the future of Benefacts and look forward to your participation.

Using Benefacts.ie v.2 to learn more about the world of Irish Nonprofits

Some users of Benefacts.ie have been telling us about what they’ve been using the new advanced search functionality to find out.

Searching by classification allows you to discover the distribution of different kinds of nonprofits around the country, and the facet tools provide a further breakdown of the data analysed. For example, there are 357 group water schemes in the Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits, most of them incorporated as Friendly Societies. The largest number (62) are in County Mayo, and 10 have a turnover of more than €500k. Use this search query.

Or search the 3,967 primary and secondary schools to see how many are registered as charities (1,844), and how many receive HSE funding under Section 39 of the 2006 Health Act (20).

Use the filters to discover more about the 3,467 nonprofits that publish abridged accounts – including 1,488 registered charities, mostly based on 2016 data. The latest news from our finance analysts is that the level of abridgement for 2017 has reached 50%, up 10% on the previous year.

Where full accounts have been provided by incorporated nonprofits to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) – which is our main source – you can also search by financial turnover: we’ve structured the analysis in bands of less than €10k, €10 – €50k, €50 – €250k and so on.

Some things we can’t yet report on. None of the financial statements filed by charities are yet available from the Charities Regulatory Authority, nor are the names of charity trustees included in the open data file that they release, even though director data is readily available from the CRO, including names and dates of appointment of the trustee/directors of incorporated charities. Because the unincorporated trustee data isn’t available, we haven’t been able to respond to various queries about gender distribution, length of service and other interesting governance questions – but hopefully that will change soon.

Thanks to the support of our funders in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Ireland Funds, www.benefacts.ie comes to you free of charge. Give us your feedback, and if you like what you see, spread the word!

Benefacts V2!

After two years of unbroken service and 165,000+ visits, benefacts.ie has been updated.

We’ve added features in response to user feedback, found some new data, and added some organisations to scope. Have a look!

Spread the word
Search” has moved up to the toolbar, and permits simple or advanced organisation search. Simple search gives you quick access to a nonprofit, if you know what you’re looking for – here’s an example. The new presentation format incorporates additional content about purposes and activities where the nonprofit is a charity, and smartens up the presentation of financial and governance data as well.

Have a look for your favourite nonprofit and if you like what you see, go to the bottom of the page and tweet a link to your followers!

Introducing advanced search
Use the advanced search function for more detailed results. For example, if you’d like to make a donation to an arts organisation that’s registered for tax-efficient gifts, check these boxes for the 103 arts companies; filter for SORP-compliance and the list goes down to 29.

You can also use advanced search to find nonprofits near you, or to find ones involved in specific kinds of activities.

Political parties
Which brings us to a group on nonprofits appearing on Benefacts.ie for the first time – political parties. Benefacts defines civil society organisations as all those that are neither part of the Government nor of the private sector. This includes political parties and – thanks to the Office of the Clerk of the Oireachtas (which registers them), and the Standards in Public Office Commission (which collects and publishes their financial statements) – we can provide these listings for the first time on Benefacts.ie.

Other non-charities in Benefacts Database of Irish Nonprofits include chambers of commerce, trade unions and sports bodies.

Cooperation with Fingal
This year, we are delighted to have had the cooperation of Fingal County Council and Fingal Public Participation Network (PPN) in introducing the contents of their register to the database, including valuable data on activities. Where a local nonprofit is part of the Fingal PPN, this is flagged at the foot of their listing – we hope other counties and PPNs will follow Fingal’s lead and we’re starting to explore this with them now. When they do, there will be information about at least 10,000 more local societies, clubs and associations to be found in our one-stop shop for information about all Irish nonprofits.

Benefacts model is to harvest data from many public sources, and put it to work in the service of nonprofits and their stakeholders. Nobody has to provide us with any additional information so we don’t add to the regulatory burden on the sector.

We’ve started to work with a group of public sector bodies and philanthropies to put the data to work in a way that should help to rationalise the heavy cost of duplicate filing that represents such a heavy administrative burden – on funders and nonprofits alike.

Contact us!
Meanwhile, any nonprofit listed on our site is welcome to ask us for a look at all of the data we have collected about your organisation to date – just get in touch.