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Find that charity

Elasticsearch-powered search engine for looking for charities. Allows for:

  • importing data from England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, ensuring that duplicates are matched to one record.
  • An elasticsearch index that can be queried.
  • Org-ids are added to charities.
  • Reconciliation API for searching charity, based on an optimised search query.
  • Facility for uploading a CSV of charity names and adding the (best guess) at a charity number.
  • HTML pages for searching for a charity


  1. Clone repository
  2. Create virtual environment (python -m venv env)
  3. Activate virtual environment (env/bin/activate or env/Scripts\activate)
  4. Install requirements (pip install -r requirements.txt)
  5. Install elasticsearch
  6. Start elasticsearch
  7. Create elasticsearch index (python data_import/

Dokku Installation

1. Set up dokku server

SSH into server and run:

# create app
dokku apps:create find-that-charity

# add permanent data storage
dokku storage:mount find-that-charity /var/lib/dokku/data/storage/find-that-charity:/data

# elasticsearch
sudo dokku plugin:install elasticsearch
export ELASTICSEARCH_IMAGE="elasticsearch"
dokku elasticsearch:create find-that-charity-es
dokku elasticsearch:link find-that-charity-es find-that-charity

sudo dokku plugin:install
dokku config:set --no-restart find-that-charity DOKKU_LETSENCRYPT_EMAIL=your@email.tld
dokku letsencrypt find-that-charity
dokku letsencrypt:cron-job --add

# create app storage
mkdir -p /var/lib/dokku/data/storage/ftc-uploads
chown -R dokku:dokku /var/lib/dokku/data/storage/ftc-uploads
chown -R 32767:32767 /var/lib/dokku/data/storage/ftc-uploads
dokku storage:mount find-that-charity /var/lib/dokku/data/storage/ftc-uploads:/app/data
dokku config:set find-that-charity FOLDER=/app/data

2. Add as a git remote and push

On local machine:

git remote add dokku dokku@SERVER_HOST:find-that-charity
git push dokku master

3. Setup and run import

On Dokku server run:

# setup and run import
dokku run find-that-charity python data_import/
dokku run find-that-charity python data_import/ --folder '/data'
dokku run find-that-charity python data_import/ --folder '/data'

4. Set up scheduled task for running tasks on a regular basis

On dokku server add a cron file at /etc/cron.d/find-that-charity

nano /etc/cron.d/find-that-charity

Then paste in the file contents, and press CTRL+X then Y to save.

File contents:

# server cron jobs

# m   h   dom mon dow   username command
# *   *   *   *   *     dokku    command to be executed
# -   -   -   -   -
# |   |   |   |   |
# |   |   |   |   +----- day of week (0 - 6) (Sunday=0)
# |   |   |   +------- month (1 - 12)
# |   |   +--------- day of month (1 - 31)
# |   +----------- hour (0 - 23)
# +----------- min (0 - 59)



# fetch latest charity data from the regulators
# run at 2am on the 13th of the month
0 2 13 * * dokku dokku run find-that-charity python data_import/ --folder '/app/data'

# import latest charity data
# run at 4am on the 13th of the month
0 4 13 * * dokku dokku run find-that-charity python data_import/ --folder '/app/data'


Fetching data

This step fetches data on charities in England, Wales and Scotland. The command is run using the following command:

python data_import/ --oscr <path/to/oscr/zip/>

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)

OSCR data needs to be manually downloaded from the OSCR website in order to accept the terms and conditions. Once downloaded the path needs to be passed to data_import/ using the --oscr flag.

Charity Commission for England and Wales

Data on charities in England and Wales will be fetched from If a different URL is needed then use the --ccew flag.

The latest .ZIP file will be downloaded and unzipped, and the data contained will be converted from .bcp files to .csv.

Charity Commission for Northern Ireland

Data on charities in Northern Ireland will be fetched from (Open Government Licence) If a different URL is needed then pass it to the --ccni flag when running import/

The latest .CSV file (updated daily) will be downloaded to /data.

"Other names" for Northern Ireland charities are not contained in the downloadable CSV, but are in the information presented on the CCNI website. The other names are maintained in this list which will be downloaded. To use another file, pass url to --ccni_extra.

Dual registered charities

A list of dual registered charities will be downloaded from github. To use another file pass an url to --dual.

The list is CSV file with a line per pair of England and Wales/Scottish charities in the format:

"Scottish Charity Number","E&W Charity Number","Charity Name (E&W)"
"SC002327","263710","Shelter, National Campaign for Homeless People Limited"

To add more charities fork the to the Github gist and add a comment to the original gist.

Postcode data

You can also add postcode data from to allow for geographic-based searching. If you host the postcode elasticsearch index on the same host it can be used at the stage.

Importing data

Once the data has been fetched the needed files are stored data/ directory. You can then run the python data_import/ script to import it.

By default the script will look for an elasticsearch instance at localhost:9200, use python data_import/ --help to see the available options. To use the postcode elasticsearch index you need to pass --es-pc-host localhost.

Data model

The data is imported into elasticsearch in the following format:

  "charity_number": "12355",
  "ccew_number": "12355",
  "oscr_number": "SC1235",
  "ccni_number": "NIC100012",
  "active": true,
  "names": [
    {"name": "Charity Name", "type": "registered name", "source": "ccew"}
  "known_as": "Charity Name",
  "geo": {
    "areas": ["gss_codes"],
    "postcode": "PO54 0DE",
    "latlng": [0.0, 50.0]
  "url": "",
  "domain": "",
  "latest_income": 12345,
  "company_number": [
    {"number": "00121212", "source": "ccew"}
  "parent": "124566",
  "ccew_link": "",
  "oscr_link": "",
  "ccni_link": "",
  "org-ids": ["GB-COH-00121212", "GB-CHC-12355", "GB-SC-SC1235", "GB-NIC-100012"],
  "date_registered": "2001-01-01T00:00:00",
  "date_removed": null,
  "last_modified": "2018-02-11T22:49:15"


The server uses bottle. Run it with the following command:

python server/ --host localhost --port 8080

The server offers the following API endpoints:

  • /reconcile: a reconciliation service API conforming to the OpenRefine reconciliation API specification.

  • /charity/12345: Look up information about a particular charity


Current status is a proof-of-concept, needs a bit of work to get up and running.


  • tests for ensuring data is correctly imported
  • server tests
  • use results of server/ to produce the best reconciliation search query for use in the server (recon_test_7 seems the best at the moment)
  • threshold for when to use the result vs discard

Future development:

  • upload a CSV file and reconcile each row with a charity
  • allow updating a charity with additional possible names
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