About OpenCharities

What is it?
A quick and simple project to open up the information on the UK's Register of Charities, and make it available to the community in a variety of forms. It's built by the people behind OpenlyLocal.com, a project to open up local government data and other local public sector information
Doesn't the Charities Commission website have this information?
Yes. In fact it's got a lot more information on its website than we have here, and so for very detailed information about a charity, head over there (there's links to the correct Charity Commission page on every page).
This project aims to provide the basic information (name, charity number, contact details, aims and most recent accounts info) in a clear, accessible way, and to provide it as data in a way that can be reused by the community for mashups, analysis, and in other websites
Why are you doing this?
In short, we needed the information on OpenlyLocal. Specifically we needed to match up spending from councils to the recipients, which include charities. We therefore 'screen-scraped' the information from the Charity Commission website, and imported it into a database. As there were other groups who also wanted access to the data, we decided to make it available as open data.
How does the API work?
If you want the information on a page as data you just add '.json' or '.xml' to the end of the URL for a charity to get it as JSON or XML. The ID used in the URL is the charity's charity number.
We have also constructed resource URIs for each charity, so you can you them as identifiers in linked data. They are the same URI as the normal one, but with the first part of the URI being http://OpenCharities.org/id/charities rather than http://OpenCharities.org/charities
What licence is this released under, and can I use this commercially?
According to the Charity Commission, the underlying data is Crown Copyright. There are also database rights that accrued to OpenCharities in compiling its version, and we are making this available under the Open Database Licence (attribution, share-alike). This means that as far as OpenCharities is concerned you are free to use both commercially and non-commercially as long as you attribute OpenCharities (with a link to the website), and follow the share-alike restriction.
Why don't you just ask the Charity Commission for the data? Don't they have to publish it under the new 'right to data'?
That's been tried quite recently, using the government's data unlocking service. Unfortunately, they seem to believe that they are the only people who should have full access to the register. Update: we're now in dialogue with the Charity Commission and hope to resolve this.
You say that you're opening up UK Charities, but there's only data from the Register for England & Wales? Why is this?
We're hoping to eventually include Scotland and Northern Ireland too, but haven't done it yet. If anyone's got any good contacts there, please let us know/
Is the data accurate? Up-to-date?
We think it's fairly accurate, although screen-scraping websites (particularly one apparently designed to be difficult to scrape) is not an exact science. This is why it is better to make the raw data available. On every charity page there is now a button to update the information from the Charity Register. If you notice the information is out of date, please click on this and it will be updated automatically from the Register
Can we have a copy of the full database?
Yes. The whole thing can be downloaded as a compressed CSV file from http://OpenCharities.org/charities.csv.zip under the same Share-Alike Attribution licence as the API data. Please Note: Even compressed, it's quite a big file (over 25MB), and may be too big for many spreadsheets.
Who's behind this project?
The people behind OpenCharities are Pushrod, a small company dedicated to innovative web projects and opening up public data, and led by Chris Taggart (a member of the Local Public Data Panel and developer of OpenlyLocal.com).
How do we contact you
Use the feedback link at the left of every page or email us at our sister project, info@openlylocal.com
Anything else?
Yes, we'd like to thank the following resources used in the building of OpenCharities: the lightweight Sinatra Web Framework, Komodo Media for the CC SA-BY social networking icons, and countless bits of open source software on which the project is built.