The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has provided grant funding to Benefacts since 2015. The project was funded as a pathfinder initiative in the area of data analytics on the non-profit sector. Benefacts was initially co-funded with philanthropy, however in recent years the Department has been providing the majority of funding to the entity.
In 2019, DPER received an independent report which it commissioned to provide analysis of the market for data on the non-profit sector. This report examined, inter alia, issues around the demand for the data concerned; methodologies and technologies used; the potential for direct provision by the State of these services itself, and; the maturity of the market to provide these services efficiently. On foot of this report, DPER undertook a review in 2020 which found that the business case for its continued funding of Benefacts was no longer justified and accordingly the decision was made to terminate funding. This decision was notified to the Chairperson of the Board of Benefacts and other relevant stakeholders in June 2020.
Recognising that other public service bodies with direct policy involvement in the not-for-profit sector may have wished to consider whether they had an appreciable business case to continue funding Benefacts, my Department agreed to fund the initiative up to the end of 2021. This provision was made to facilitate relevant public service bodies to consider their position and to assess all of the options in relation to their respective business needs concerning data on the not-for-profit sector.
In April 2021, my Department reaffirmed its 2020 decision to all of the parties concerned. Furthermore, in acknowledgment of the impact of Covid19 on this deliberative process, DPER sanctioned a final three month extension of funding to Benefacts up to the 31st March 2022. As of December 2021, no alternative funding source from among the Departments and agencies who directly avail of the service provided by Benefacts has been identified.
The factors influencing the original decision of April 2020 have not changed materially and, consequently, the decision of this Department to terminate funding remains unaltered.
My officials are continuing to work closely with the executive and Board of Benefacts to ensure that all necessary requirements under the funding agreement will be met, including those which may arise under a wind-up scenario.