The Charity Commission database can be accessed via its online search website, or by downloading the raw data.
- Online search http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/showcharity/registerofcharities/RegisterHomePage.aspx
- Data download http://data.charitycommission.gov.uk
We filtered income level and recent financial reporting, removed charities without registered websites, and searched for particular keywords in the stated objects.
Registration with the Charity Commission allows a charity to categorise itself in three dimensions – what they do, who they help, and how they do it – selecting from a fixed list of options. The “what” dimension corresponds to the legal categories of charity, and so corresponds closely to the final list of categories we chose. Additionally, charities supply free-form text describing their charitable objects.
Our first pass through the database looked for charities that matched appropriate categories and/or used appropriate keywords in their objects, such as “child”. We excluded charities if they:
- Were not marked as “registered”
- Made no income filing or filed income below £20,000 in the last year
- Did not have a registered website
- Did not list a specific region of operation within the UK for domestic categories
- Registered under 5 or more different categories
Additionally, we built up experience that filtering out some words would remove inappropriate charities effectively: as most schools and churches in the UK are eligible for charitable status but inappropriate for our purposes, we were able to remove most of them from consideration automatically at this stage. While this also removed some appropriate projects closely involved with schools or churches, it meant that charities remaining on our list were far more likely to be appropriate.
Charities on the resultant long list were randomly ordered, then the list was typically truncated to no more than 100 charities. The website for each of these charities was manually inspected, and a further set of criteria applied:
- The website should display active/recent and pertinent information
- The website should resemble the database profile of the charity
- The website should make it clear that the charity accepts donations from the general public
- The website contains no content clearly making the charity an inappropriate grant recipient
Charities on the resultant shortlist were inspected and discussed by the board as budget became available to make a grant in the category. A secret ballot of board members would narrow the list to 2-4 charities, from which a final recipient or recipients were chosen by consensus through discussion.