News analysis: Website's presentation of information stands out

Emma Maier

The key difference between Guidestar and other sites is the volume and presentation of information. Data is based on trustees' annual reports, so there is as much narrative information as figures. The information is all searchable, rather than being in the form of pdf documents.

Guidestar will also combine information about specific charities and public education messages. "We need to work with other groups to develop the glossary," says Roberts. "I hope this will include charity facts.org."

Other similar sites include the Charity Commission's online register, which displays summarised accounts from previous years. Scanned copies of the full accounts are available for about 400 charities.

The newly launched charityfacts.org contains a comprehensive series of fact sheets on all aspects of giving and how charities operate, but no details of individual charities.

The Wilmington Group has a number of charity data sites: topukcharities.com is a subscription service offering comparative financial information on 10,000 charities.

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