NGO Explorer tool aims to connect the UK’s development charities

The UK is renowned for its active, vibrant and diverse international development charities, but until recently, surprising little was known about the full extent and geography of the sector.

To address this gap, Professor Dan Brockington of the University of Sheffield and Dr Nicola Banks of The University of Manchester set out to map and understand the UK’s development sector.

Their research produced new insights that show a sector that grew consistently, both in terms of income and number of organisations, from 2005 -2015.

After talking the findings through with smaller development charities, many of whom are based outside of London, Dan and Nicola recognised the need for a simple tool that would enable charities to find counterparts close to them in the UK, and in the developing countries they operate in.

The NGO Explorer website, unveiled to a group of small charities at BOND on Wednesday, is the result of these discussions. The simple, accessible and powerful tool enables users to search for UK-based development charities by their location in the UK or overseas.

Results can be refined by the size and activity of charities, with information displayed in an easy to read dashboard, which can also be downloaded by users.

Professor Dan Brockington said: “We hope the NGO explorer will be used as a spring-board for contacts, interactions and exchange.

"It fits into a broader ecosystem of networking activities and organisations, which provide new ways for international NGOs to collaborate and coordinate.”

The site is based on Charity Commission data for England and Wales, made accessible and kept updated via Charity Base, created by Dan Kwiatkowski. Data scientist David Kane, formerly of NCVO, developed the website. Finding ways to include Scottish and Irish NGOs in the tool is the next priority for the team.

Dr Nicola Banks commented: “We know that the development sector acts quite differently from civil society as a whole, so it’s important we know more about it.

"With 90% of development expenditure concentred amongst just 8% of large organisations in the sector, we’re excited to help to connect smaller organisations.”

The NGO Explorer project was funded by the ESRC and the Global Challenges Research Fund and supported by the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester.

Find out more at www.ngoexplorer.org.