New Database Details Non-profit Sector Income
Non-profit organisations and charities in Ireland received about €5.75 billion in 2009 in grants, donations and other sources of income, according to data contained in a major new database on the non-profit sector.
Until now, information on the sector has been available only from the non-profit organisations themselves and from regulatory authorities such as the Companies Registration Office.
“Donors want to do the right thing and are looking for impact”
However, financial and governance information on the estimated 8,000 non-profit organisations which benefit from charitable tax exemption from the Revenue Commissioners will be available on the internet free for the first time from midday today.
The Irish Non-profits Database (irishnonprofits.ie) is compiled from various regulatory sources and has been funded by grants and donations from Government, philanthropic and corporate sources.
It has been established by the Irish Nonprofits Knowledge Exchange (INKEx), an independent Irish non-profit company, and aims to become a resource for donors, regulators and the non-profit sector itself.
Other data which has emerged from initial searches of the database show that:
Of the estimated 8,000 non-profit companies, almost half – 3,600 – are run on an entirely voluntary basis;
The remaining 4,400 non-profit organisations had payroll costs of more than €4 billion, two-thirds of all expenditure across the non-profit sector.
There are some limitations on the data available. For example, non-profit organisations are not required to provide salary details for individual senior staff, although some charities and non-profits in Ireland have voluntarily opted to share this information.
Also, there are about 3,900 charitable organisations, such as schools, religious groups and others, which are not registered as non-profits companies and are not required to provide detailed financial information, although this will change when the new Charities Act is fully implemented.
Patricia Quinn, chief executive of INKEx, said the database has received a broadly positive reaction from non-profits, which have been able to access it during a trial-phase over recent months.
“We worked with a pilot group of around 300 non-profits and the reaction to it has been very good, mainly because the regulatory environment for non-profits and charities is about to change. Many feel that this is an important platform for them,” she said.
The competitive world of fund-raising means non-profits are increasingly seeking to provide greater transparency on their finances, governance and effectiveness to attract donors, Ms Quinn said.
The database is also helping to highlight how resources at a national level can be spent more effectively, she added. Initial data shows, for example, that administrative costs across the entire sector could be significantly reduced if State grants came from a single source.
“Hundreds of non-profits receive grants from more than one Government source, and they all have to file multiple sets of similar information to each one, often several times a year, as a condition of receiving payment of their funding,” she said.
“The Government could streamline this, and help non-profits to eliminate a lot of duplication, with substantial administrative savings for all concerned.”
The database is modelled on the successful GuideStar database in the US, which has been providing information on non-profit organisations for the past decade.
Bob Ottenhoff, president and chief executive of GuideStar, said its database was increasingly being used by donors who wanted to ensure their money was being used in the most effective way possible.
“Donors want to do the right thing and are looking for impact,” he said.
BY THE NUMBERS
- €5.75 billion - the income for all non-profits
- €4 billion - payroll costs for all non-profit companies
- 8,000 - the total number of non-profit companies
- 3,600 - the number of all non-profits run entirely on a voluntary basis
- 102,000 - people working for non-profits
- 59,600 - directors served on boards of non-profits
* These figures are based on 2009 data available in the Irish Non-profits Database.