Standardised list of local CSO's in partner countries

not sure if this is the right place to post this…

We would like to standardise in our system the way we encode our CSO-partners in partner countries. We use a freetext field until now, which of course prevents us from reliably querying them. What’s more, we would be very interested to be able to query other organisations’ activity files / data in this respect as well, which I guess would be the case for other development partners too. Hence, a common standardised list would be welcome.

Of course this is linked to various topics, traceability in the first place.

We realise this won’t be easy, given the speed at which the CSO landscape can change. Perhaps we should take a “chaordic” approach as mentioned by Steven (thanks !, interesting) in his post here (Adding to the Organisation Registration Agency code list - push rather than pull?) ?

We were wondering whether there were plans, or appetite, to (try to) assemble such a list at IATI level ?
Would anybody who has experience in this be willing to share the result of their work with us ?

Rather than creating and maintaining a list of CSOs in a given country (which seems like an enormous and never-ending task), should we not agree on the approach to be used in each country?

This would mean, for instance, identifying the relevant registering body, identifiyng a piece of information that is unique to each CSO (like a tax number, or an employer number) from this registering body, and agreeing on how these will be combined to form the CSO ID.
We did this for Canada: the registering body is the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA, ARC in French) which manages tax matters and to which all businesses and CSOs must report annually, the unique piece of information is the Business Number (a 9-digit number that is also the General Sales Tax number and the employer number). The unique identifier for Canadian private and civil society organizations is thus: CA-CRA_ARC-123456789

We have started to think in those terms for our local partners too. We are increasingly requiring our embassies to collect the registration number for our local partners, vendors etc, as a way to avoid creating duplicate records. In some countries it takes a bit of research to identify to right source for the information, but there’s always one.

This is a great example where it would make sense to coordinate efforts. Partner country members of IATI could provide guidance for their own system: who is the registering body? Where can the identifiers be found? If there are several bodies, which should be used for what? What should the full identifier look like? (like the example we provide for the Canadian CSOs).

This information should be compiled in the codelist:
For countries still missing from the list, we should all make an effort to provide the information if/when we find it, so that we eventually have a complete list. It would also be useful to have a full set of examples (ie what the identifier of each country/body would look like).

Does this make sense?

This is an important issue and opportunity. In my view, one of IATI’s next wins could be the exposure of a de-facto list of active and, to a certain extent, “credible” agencies, built from the existing data.

This could, for example, be a boost for southern NGOs to make a case with new donors or partners of a demonstrable track record. In the context of the localisation debate in the humanitarian community, this would be a useful tool for donors. For agencies struggling with unfair assumptions regarding counter-terror and money-laundering issues, it could also be helpful to show their other partnerships and authenticity.

I found 12,000 entities in 2015 IATI activities (before normalisation, duplicates etc), which is a promising number.

At IRIN we have been seeking to build support for leveraging the infrastructure of OpenCorporates/OpenCharities to build a non-profit register using primary, or publicly authenticated sources (eg LEIs) wherever possible. Even if it’s not on that specific platform, such a register ought to be open and re-usable and the provenance of the data transparent. There are some 3m non-profits in that system already, although the UK part of it is the most advanced for charities.

Click here for a demo I started on Save the Children.

Unfortunately the BRIDGE registry, which has a similar number of entries, is not open and has no API or download facility. Agencies who just apply for funding to one of the participating data providers get included, whether or not they got a grant, which is an interesting twist. There is no visible link to the legal licensing entity of the non-profit either. (Entities can ask to be taken off, which adds a different problem).

Meanwhile IATI seems at risk of multiplying identifiers (FTS and Global Giving come to mind), making de-duplication potentially a growing issue.

I’d be grateful and eager for a discussion on this with any interested parties!

All the best


Hi All -

Happy to think through how BRIDGE might be helpful here. No, it’s not available for a full download, but we can take data sets and append BRIDGE numbers if the source file has rich enough data. We recently got to a point where we have confidence in the matching routines and are ready to start testing some new data beyond the original four members. We’re also seeking to add new data to BRIDGE and can explore that too. Also, this isn’t a GlobalGiving identifier, we just happen to be hosting BRIDGE, which is a collaborative effort of GuideStar USA, TechSoup, Foundation Center, and GlobalGiving.


John Hecklinger

Our strong preference would be to use an organisation’s main identifier (issued by its national registering agency) rather than third-party-issued numbers, be it BRIDGE or others. Why create new numbers that have to be mapped back to something? This is akin to creating parallel systems instead of using national ones, which we know can create long-term problems even if they ease short-term pains.

In addition, we should be careful with the notion that any list created will involve some form of validation and confer credibility etc. Who would do this validation? On the other hand, by all committing to using the organisations’ proper IDs, we will make it easier for anyone to find out who they are working with; the organization itself can then use IATI data to demonstrate its partnerships and experience.

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