The Charity Commission has released a beta version of its new online charity search tool which it believes will make it much easier to find and understand information about charities. The regulator’s online data is the authoritative source of information on charities in England and Wales. Registered charities’ details are viewed online over 6 million times a year.
The Charity Commission reports that improvements in the new charity search tool include:
key information will be more prominent, e.g. as income and expenditure and charity contact details
easier viewing on mobile phones and tablets
more user-friendly search filtering options
a new option to download filtered searches as a CSV file
a look and feel consistent with other services on GOV.UK
The Charity Commission reports that future planned updates to the beta version will include additional information from charities’ annual returns, including whether a charity:
pays its trustees
raises funds from the public and whether it uses a commercial participator to do so
is a member of FRSB and therefore committed to high fundraising standards
has a trading subsidiary
makes grants to other charities as one of its main activities [that should already be noted!]
has written policies on safeguarding vulnerable beneficiaries, risk management, investment or conflicts of interest
is regulated by or registered with other agencies such as Ofsted, Care Quality Commission and Homes and Communities Agency
The new search tool is being built as a web service on an open data platform. This encourages transparency and makes it easier for other organisations to develop digital tools that use charity data. It will be interesting to see what OpenCharities makes of these developments.
NB The ‘beta’ service is still in development and some functionality may not work correctly. If you find something that’s broken, please tell the Charity Commission.
Finbar Cullen, ResearchPlus
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