This year should see several national GuideStars and a Pan-European Platform established in Europe. This is the upshot of an 18-month programme, concluded in December 2008 and co-funded by the European Commission and various governmental, private sector and philanthropy sources, to undertake ‘market feasibility’ assessments in those countries. This is part of GuideStar International’s (GSI) project to build a global network of websites to present information on different countries’ civil society organizations. GSI is currently supporting development programmes in nine countries.
The following conclusions stand out from the European studies. First, interest in, and demand for, a comprehensive, information-rich reporting venue for CSOs exists in all cases and is supported by key stakeholders. Second, to ensure a comprehensive and credible service, CSO information derived from documents and reports filed with relevant government registries and other agencies must form the basis of the GuideStar service in each country.
Furthermore, although the quality and quantity of data available from government sources varies, this core data can be obtained. Additional information (on the organization’s objectives, activities, structure and finances), supplied directly online by CSOs, is also desirable. Finally, the ability to conduct cross-border searches of each national service, through the ‘GuideStar Europe’ portal, is a desirable and expected feature.
Based on these assessments and the testing of the GSI common technology platform with national audiences, the programme partners – German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) in Germany, Nonprofit Information and Training Centre Foundation
(NIOK) in Hungary, Central Bureau on Fundraising (CBF) in the Netherlands, and Irish Charities Tax Research Ltd (ICTR) in Ireland – have produced plans to establish national GuideStar operations while GuideStar International will bring together a European Platform.