The Register of Charities plays a vital role in helping people make informed decisions about which charities to support. You can use it to check the 170,000 charities which are registered, download data for research, find out whether donations are being spent in the way they should, and search for charities that might be able to help you.
We launched a new version of the Register in September 2020, that provided more useful information such as employee benefits and income from government sources. It had a more powerful search, was more accessible for users of assistive technology and was available in Welsh for the first time.
We didn’t stop there though. We want to ensure that the Register is as useful and user friendly as we can make it, and the best way of doing that is by gaining insights from people’s actual experience of using it.
This meant that instead of waiting to launch something that we believed was perfect from the outset (and then calling it a day), we took an agile approach – getting a working version up and running then making further improvements based on your feedback.
Feedback we’ve received included users telling us they wanted more search options, more detailed information on finances and an easier route to accessing bulk information.
So, we listened and acted – working in small bursts (or sprints) to make the changes that we thought would bring the biggest benefits.
Where we’ve improved
Users that search for many charities in quick succession told us that having to go back to the landing page to search again was not a great user experience. In response to this, we introduced a “quick search” facility that is accessible from every page and further improved the search by reducing irrelevant results.
We have also worked with specialist users (such as researchers and academics) to redesign our data sharing portal. Offering a choice of an API or bulk downloads in two widely-compatible formats makes it easier for anyone interested in the charity sector as a whole to download all the data that we publish on the Register, so that they can perform their analysis using our latest information.
We’ve also responded to how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the sector – leading to a rise in numbers of charities asking for a filing extension. By adding messaging to clearly identify where an extension has been agreed, we are able to display a transparent view of the charity’s current position that we hope will help potential donors, grant-makers and beneficiaries.
Some of the other enhancements we’ve made in response to feedback include:
- showing the financial history of charities that have been removed from the Register
- providing a more detailed breakdown of financial history and 5 years’ assets & liabilities history for charities in new interactive charts
- including employee benefits as a search filter
- shortening long URLs to make them easier to manage
- linking charities where a funds transfer has occurred so users can click through to the transferring or receiving charity. This is an initial step and, longer term, we are looking into whether and how we can display more merger information and improve the interaction with the Register of Merged Charities
- made accessibility improvements based on the results of an independent audit, ensuring that the Register functions much better for users of screen readers and other accessibility tools
Let us know what you think
To help keep us heading in the right direction, and make the Register even better, we want to hear from you.
Check out the new version of the Charity Register and use our feedback form to tell us whether our changes are helping you use the Register more effectively, and any ideas you might have on how we can improve it further.