NZ Charities Commission Leads the Way on Open Data
Thursday, 14th July 2011 at 3:20 pm
New Zealand is leading the way in promoting transparency and accountability in the Not for Profit sector with the Charities Commission launching its ‘open data’ project.
The ‘Open Data’ project allows public access to a wealth of information about New Zealand’s 25,000 registered charities.
The Charities Commission says the project means that all of the currently available data on the Charities Register will be made more easily accessible and usable for anyone who wants to search and download information from it.
The New Zealand Charities Register – run by the Charities Commission – provides publicly available information on the more than 25,000 registered charities in New Zealand. The information includes: names, addresses and registration numbers; names of all past and present officers; a copy of its rules; their application for registration as a charitable entity and annual returns.
Under the NZ Charities Act 2005, registering with the Charities Commission is voluntary, however charities not registered with the Commission are not eligible for tax exempt status, and while they can still call themselves a charity, they are not able to be called a ‘registered charitable entity’.
To help people search data from the Register’s ‘universe of data’, the Commission has also developed a new tool, called the “advanced search”.
According to the Commission, using the advanced search, a user could – for example – get an Excel spreadsheet that will list all charities that are located in the Auckland region, have an income between $20,000 and $100,000 excluding government grants, and provide services (such as care or counselling) for people with disabilities. Users are able to sort the data as they wish – such as by size, area, or address.
The advanced search allows users to get groups or lists of charities, and view or compare their data.
The Commission says software developers will also be able to apply their own tools to the Register, to squeeze, chop, dice and puree the data, and, if they wish, to combine it with other sets of data.
In making the Register data more easily accessible and usable, the Commission says it hopes that it will increase awareness of the transparency of the charitable sector, and support increased public trust and confidence.
The Commission says it wants to encourage communities, policy makers, researchers and others to use the already-existing data (and, if they wish, combine it with different data sets), for new purposes, for the wider public benefit.
The Charity Commission has been working with the OpenNZ community, and is now working to setup a wiki where the OpenNZ developers will collaborate with them to develop the documentation to a high standard, which the Charities Commission hopes could be a benchmark and guide for other government agencies going into open data.
Paul Stone, Charities Commission Information Services Manager says the other small agencies with limited resources can learn from the Charities Commission open data project.
The advanced search is at: http://www.register.charities.govt.nz/CharitiesRegister/AdvancedSearch.aspx
The open data API is at: http://www.odata.charities.govt.nz/