Information Revolution – Directory of Social Change Acquires GuideStar UK.
Tuesday, 9th March 2010 at 2:22 pm
Ownership of the free UK public GuideStar website, which contains information about all UK charities, and the GuideStar Data Services (GDS) community interest company that leverages that information for use by third parties has been acquired by The Directory of Social Change (DSC)
The acquisition is described as combining the most detailed repository of information about charities and the voluntary sector with the largest publisher of information for those who work in it.
DSC CEO Debra Tyler says the potential from the acquisition is immense; pledging to maintain the free website and also to explore ways of increasing access to the data for funders, campaigners, policy-makers and organisations delivering services.
Tyler says DSC’s vision is for an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change, and GuideStar provides more tools to make this happen. She says there will be a programme of new services rolled out in the coming months, starting with one to help funders make more informed grantmaking decisions.
Buzz Schmidt, founder of GuideStar and CEO of GuideStar International, says he has long admired DSC for its commitment to fostering an independent charity sector in the UK and its work as connector, facilitator and cheer leader for the many thousands of small and medium sized charities that are the life blood of the sector throughout the country.
He says he’s confident that DSC is the right home for www.guidestar.org.uk and GDS and that it will wholeheartedly advance GuideStar’s mission to promote greater public understanding of the work of charities.
The organisation has had a number of executive leaders since its inception. The latest, Les Hems, who became director of both GuideStar UK and GuideStar Data Services mid-2009, left at the end of last year for a new job in Australia as the Director of Research at the Centre for Social Impact at the University of NSW.
For more than 35 years, DSC has specialised in providing information and learning to connect those who fund, deliver or influence social change. Its books, training programmes and conferences are well known to the sector, particularly those looking for funding.
GuideStar Data Services operated The GuideStar Third Sector Database which comprises more than 400 searchable fields of data on 350,000 organisations including charities, social enterprises and Not for Profit organisations.
Both Guidestar and DSC say the transfer of ownership seeks to achieve a step change in the quality and accessibility of third sector information.
Reports from the UK media say Guidestar UK was struggling to become self sufficient. The GuideStar UK website was established in March 2004 with £2.9m from the Treasury’s Invest to Save Budget and more than £1m from other funders.
GuideStar Data Services was created in 2007 to sell information from the GuideStar database to interested parties such as government agencies or credit providers. It was set up with a £1.25m loan that originated from US Not for Profit Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. UK media reports say it was expected to break even within 18 months and eventually to cover the costs of GuideStar UK, but has not yet turned a profit.