Benefacts is a public database of civil society organisations in Ireland which will provide extensive information about the entire sector in a free public website.
The definition of civil society entities, or non-profits, is drawn from international norms that distinguish between organisations that make up the market, the government, and civil society.
This means that the Benefacts database includes a wide array of non-commercial, non-governmental organisations involved in the arts & culture, education, environment, health, local or international development, philanthropy, politics, religion, sport and social care.
The extent of the Benefacts database was found through a widely reliable international standard, and includes associations, clubs, faith bodies, friendly societies, schools and trusts, as well as not for profit companies. This has enabled Benefacts to identify one or more sources of regulatory data in each case for almost 20,000 Irish non-profits.
Benefacts originated from the work of the Irish Non-profits Knowledge Exchange (INKEx), a project funded by government, the European Commission, Irish charities and philanthropies in 2007-2012 to build, test and launch an Irish database and free public website using regulatory disclosures by non-profits, supplemented by voluntary disclosures. After this concept was proven to be effective, the work of INKEx will be continued by Benefacts.
Besides designing and building a database with data then available (from 2009 and 2010), in 2012 INKEx published the first-ever report derived from full population data about Irish nonprofit companies
The directors of Benefacts are drawn from the non-profit, philanthropic and professional services sectors. Benefacts also has a highly-qualified team of professional specialists, with more than 15 years’ experience across non-profit governance and management, public policy, software design and development, data analytics, information management, project management and financial audit and reporting.
The funders have formed a Project Advisory Group to monitor the progress of the project and to assist the company in identifying and piloting potential uses of the database serving the sector and its stakeholders. Benefacts is co-funded by government and philanthropic grants totaling €3.75m for three years between 2015 and 2017.
Once the technologies are built and proven, Benefacts would like to be self-reliant after this 3-year funding round. Benefacts are actively searching for ways that the data can be used by potential partners – in government, the nonprofits sector and its stakeholders – to remunerate the costs of maintaining it up-to-date into the future.