GuideStar service for councils

Emma Maier

GuideStar UK is launching a service to help local government funders monitor the performance of charities that provide public services.

The Local Government Intelligence Service will allow charities to store information about targets, achievements and quality systems within their GuideStar records, where it can be viewed by local authorities and public bodies.

The initiative was designed to reduce the burden on charities by allowing them to store performance information in one place on GuideStar, rather than having to produce reports for different funders. Several facilities have been added, such as the option for charities to upload documents. Sensitive information will be available to registered local authorities and public bodies only.

Local authorities will be able to use the tool to search for charities that provide a given public service in a specific region, so they can target such charities during consultations or tenders.

"The facility has been developed in response to feedback from a number of local authorities," said Les Hems, director of operations at GuideStar.

"Quite a few local authorities have expressed an interest and we haven't publicised it yet, so we're really pleased."

The service will be available only to charities registered in England and Wales when it launches later this month. GuideStar intends to open access to other voluntary organisations eventually.

The service will be available free to charities, but local authorities and public bodies will have to pay a subscription fee. The fee structure has not yet been confirmed.

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The people behind GuideStar are seeking support from the United Nations for a plan to export the model to 30 countries by 2012.

GuideStar International, which includes US founder Buzz Schmidt and UK co-founder Hilary Browne-Wilkinson on its board, is already developing software for use in India, South Africa, Germany, Hungary and South Korea.

It is also mapping the world to ascertain the 'GuideStar-readiness' of every country. Eventually it hopes to launch a global search facility.

Each national site will be independent, and GuideStar International will charge a licence fee. "We need the backing of international players and multilateral agencies, such as DfID," said Kate Neligan, director of operations at GuideStar International. "The United Nations is interested in this."

Mathew Little.

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