Benefacts to be Wound Up

Posted on 21 Jan 2022

Benefacts comprehensive database and publicly available website with financial and governance information on Ireland’s €14 billion nonprofit sector will close in mid-February.

The Board of nonprofit data analysis company Benefacts has announced that due to the termination of support from its lead Government funder, the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, its 7-year project to transform the transparency and digital accessibility of Ireland’s €14 billion nonprofit sector will cease in February.

Although other public and philanthropic funding is available, an alternative funding coalition cannot be assembled without another Government department taking over from the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform in the lead funding role, and none is prepared to do this. As a result, and with great regret, the Board of Benefacts has no alternative but to wind up the company. The free public website with extensive financial and governance information on Ireland’s €14 billion nonprofit sector will be taken offline on 14th February.  

Established in 2014, Benefacts provided Ireland’s only comprehensive and publicly available database of civil society, nonprofit and voluntary organisations in Ireland. Since its establishment in 2015, Benefacts has received a total of €8.9m in funding ­— €6.35m from the State and €2.54m in philanthropic and other income. In addition to providing specialised data services to the nonprofit sector, the State and others, this support has enabled Benefacts to deliver:

  • The only comprehensive database of all Irish nonprofits, updated daily and representing a unique compendium of Ireland’s 34,000 civil society organisations
  • A quarterly feed to the Central Statistics Office, feeding data about the €14bn nonprofit sector into Ireland’s National Accounts
  • A website providing free access to regulatory, financial and governance data about the nonprofit sector in Ireland, with more than 15,000 unique views each month
  • free public report on the entire sector, produced annually since 2017, with analysis of a sector that attracts nearly 8% of current Exchequer spending annually
  • Sectoral reports on charities and philanthropy in Ireland

Benefacts’ Chairman Mr Tom Boland commented, “Before Benefacts was established, there was no data on which to build a reliable picture of Ireland’s highly diverse €14bn sector of more than 34,000 nonprofit organisations and their 165,000 employees. Benefacts has changed this, providing oversight and analysis on the vibrant and diverse sector, which attracts about 8% of current Exchequer expenditure annually.”

“The success of Benefacts work in classifying, documenting and sharing information means it has been possible for the first time for live, trustworthy and comparable data from across the whole sector to be used to recognise trends, manage risk and make better-informed decisions.  Benefacts regularly-updated data was available to all – people working in the sector, policy-makers, funders, philanthropists, researchers and the general public alike – and it has already informed a wide body of research, policy and action as well as public debate”. 

The Department for Rural & Community Development has said that they are currently exploring options for the establishment of a centralised database which may enable them to achieve ‘a long-held goal for public policy-makers in Ireland’, in the form of ‘timely and accurate information on funding provided by the State to the community, voluntary, charity and social economy sectors’. The Minister of State for Community Development and Charities hopes that that project, as it develops, will be informed by Benefacts experience. Benefacts own State Funding Directory was launched in Beta to public officials in 2020 and to the wider public at the end of 2021.

Benefacts is requesting users to comment on the benefits of its work by completing a short online survey before the end of January. Participation is anonymous and responses will be independently analysed and provided to the Board for publication in their final annual report.