Friday, 24th December 2010
DocuTicker editors contribute brief articles to FUMSI on conducting research with grey literature - reports from government agencies, think tanks, research institutes and public interest organisations.
In my work as a contributing editor for DocuTicker, I research publicly available reports on a number of global topics. Here are some of my favourite resources for UK Charities:
At this time of year, along with all the profitable gift-giving, charities are especially keen to remind people of the needy. Donors like to be reassured about the bona fides of good causes, as scams are not unknown in this field. This article is intended to help on both counts.
There are a number of important sites listing charities in the UK or its constituent countries. One of the key official organisations for their regulation is the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Its register claims over 180,000 organisations, with a combined income of over £52 billion. It can be searched by the name or the assigned number of the charity. But if someone is seeking to support a specific type of cause, and as most people are unlikely to know a charity’s number, Advanced Search will produce the most focused results. Here keyword searching can be combined with charities’ objects or activities. Searching where charities operate can be adjusted not only to apply within England and Wales but also, by clicking on the Specific Areas tab, to Local Authority areas or to countries outside England and Wales. Additionally, charities can be selected according to income range.
Once a list of results has been obtained, a good range of financial, contact and activity information on each individual charity can be viewed, the fullest of all being given through Summary Information Reports (SIRs) (PDF).
The Big Give is a well-organised, especially informative site. It lists charities in seven broad categories and then breaks them down by facets of the broad category. For example, Emergencies and Development breaks down into such areas as Conflict Resolution, Famine Relief, Natural Disasters, etc, and the results can be for organisations operating anywhere in the world or in a specified region. As each adjustment is made to a search, so a new set of results is generated. The site also has the unusual approach of listing by Project in its categories, with the sum stated which is needed to complete it. It also appears to be standard that each charity listed in its A-Z provides a mission statement and a link to its website.
Charity Choice can be searched by Category; Name; Location; or Registered Number. Whereas its geographical reach is greater than the Charity Commission’s (as it also embraces Scotland and Northern Ireland), numerically its coverage is considerably smaller (albeit claiming to list over 10,000 organisations). Within categories the initial organisations are not listed alphabetically but do have weblinks and often the option to donate online, while organisations on later pages within a category are alphabetical but have the minimum information of name and telephone number. So this site can be helpful, but is unfortunately inconsistent in the depth of information it gives.
Will to Charity also only has hyperlinked information in a certain number of cases, with name and telephone number for the rest. Its outstanding features are the sheer number of categories it contains (over 100), and the easy to use search function, which can provide charities from regions of the UK, from a certain category, or a search that links the two facets.
The Charity Commission has a Scottish equivalent, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). This is similarly comprehensive in the number of search options it offers, with the helpful addition within Advanced Search of Purposes, a series of tick boxes to narrow searches, for such objects as the ‘prevention or relief of poverty’ or ‘advancement of animal welfare’.
Charity regulation is one of the functions of the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, where an act for this purpose was only passed in 2008. Although the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is a functioning body, with its website allowing charities to register online, it appears that the ultimate goal of such information from a researcher’s or donor’s standpoint, (i.e. a publicly accessible register), has yet to be realised. For the moment, alternatives which at least give details of some Northern Irish charities include Northern Ireland Charities Together, Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action and the Charities section of Index Ireland, which draws together information from both the North and South of the country.
Although the main focus of this article has been charities based in the UK, in many cases their work is international in scope. In this spirit, the final recommended site is Charity Vault. This is in fact a global directory of charities, those from the UK being channelled into sections for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (there is also a heading for Ireland, i.e. the Republic). As will be seen from the English example, organisations are listed alphabetically by name, by category, or by the county, city or town in which they are based. American charities are first listed by state, while the rest of the world is by country, but throughout this site is a remarkable effort to harness the desire to give. It may also be felt that, by highlighting indigenous charities within countries that are usually regarded as simply dependent, more direct contributions and encouragement can be given.
Related Posts from Docuticker
Charities Seeing Slight Recovery in Giving, But Not Enough to Keep Up with Demand or Budget Cutshttp://web.docuticker.com/go/docubase/62247
The Nonprofit Research Collaborative November 2010 Fundraising Surveyhttp://web.docuticker.com/go/docubase/62734
Global Giving: The Culture of Philanthropyhttp://web.docuticker.com/go/docubase/62318
Global study finds we are more likely to give money to charity if we are happy than if we are wealthyhttp://web.docuticker.com/go/docubase/60465
UK: The Christmas Poverty Premium: How the poor pay more to celebrate Christmashttp://web.docuticker.com/go/docubase/32524
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