Corporate and director databases

HemscottThere are hundreds of resources you can use to research companies and/or directors, some free and most subscription. The free resources are fine if you’re just looking for the basics – to compile a list of companies in your region or find out who the CEO is – but for those who want to delve a bit deeper, a subscription to a corporate database or directory can be a good investment, despite the Jimmy Choo price tags associated with them.

So what are the databases used for and what can they offer?

The majority of corporate databases provide information on registered companies and their directors. If we take the UK as an example, all the databases rely on data taken from Companies House, the official government body that registers all companies in England and Wales. The key to many of these resources is therefore not where they get their data from, but how they utilise and present this information and how often the data gets updated. Some databases, for example, might be presenting information that has been obtained through less direct means (i.e. other databases), and so can take time to update in their system. Also, you must remember that the vast majority of corporate databases have been designed for the corporate sector and so will not only be less user-friendly than they might be but also have prices to match. So, always ask for a charity discount if it’s not forthcoming.

So let’s have a look at exactly the kind of info they provide…

Company info:

  • Contact details
  • Turnover
  • Pre-tax profit
  • No. of employees
  • Line of business
  • Assets
  • Parent companies/subsidiaries
  • Shareholder info (if available)
  • List of Directors

Director info:

  • Name
  • Address (could be either home address or services address (i.e. accountant or business address etc.)
  • Date of Birth/Gender/Nationality
  • Occupation
  • List of companies they are director of

While corporate databases are useful when compiling list of companies in Birmingham who work in insurance for example, their main advantage, particularly when profiling, is to find out about directors. These databases can be really useful for corroborating a home address (N.B. it is no longer a legal requirement for directors to provide their home address for accounts. A director must proactively change their addresses to ensure privacy, which means inevitably some will filter through to corporate databases in the future), checking a DoB or nationality, and also for establishing business networks i.e. who works with who etc.

The eternal debate in prospect research circles, has always been which corporate database to choose. Most of the key databases cost thousands, so it’s really important to get the best product to suit your needs to help ensure a return on the investment. Unless you’re a corporate fundraiser or do a lot of profiling of HNWI’s for example, it’s possibly not going to be worthwhile subscribing. A cheaper alternative might be to outsource corporate and director research to a freelance prospect researcher for example.

OK, so enough cogitating, here we provide the low-down on some key databases and resources used in the fundraising sector for you to think about (N.B. we do not endorse any of these products so it’s important to conduct your own research/obtain free trials etc. in order for you to establish which is most suitable for you and your organisation).

For the UK:

  • Lexis Nexis – online database which provides corporate and director information, but also includes a searchable news function that most other databases don’t. The product costs from about £6,000+VAT and a free trial is available.
  • DASH – online database containing 3.5 million UK companies, 5 million UK directors and 2.5 million individual & corporate shareholders. Contains a full list of current & previous directorships for an individual and gives you their home address. The product costs £995+VAT (for charities with income <£2m), £2,875+VAT (for charities with income between £2-£10m and  £3,750+VAT for charities with an income over £10m.
  • OneSource – offers four regional editions covering North AmericaUnited KingdomEurope, and Asia Pacific. It’s basically a corporate database providing (in the UK for example) listings of all public and private UK registered companies and their directors. Cost on enquiry.
  • Hemscott Company Guru – an online corporate database providing information on UK companies and directors including financial data and shareprices to director biographies and remuneration. Cost is unknown. A free demo is available on site.
  • ICC Plum – online corporate database available in different variations. Cost on enquiry. Free trial is available.
  • Hoovers Online – a database of information on more than 23 million corporations and organizations worldwide. This includes public and private company profiles, industry info, links to current financials, a people search, SEC documents and subsidiary lists etc. Although this is a subscription resource, it does also have a free company search facility. If you subscribe to Hoovers you also get a free copy of the Fortune 500 list of U.S. compaines. Cost is from $845 per year. Free trials are available.
  • BoardEx – a database of in-depth profiles of directors. The database covers publicly quoted companies and major private entities at board and executive management levels. It also has a network function that allows you to see who a person is connected to whether by business or personal interests. Cost on enquiry and a demo is available via their website.
  • Companies House Direct – online database and the original source of all available company data. The service costs £5 per month plus the cost of downloading documents (from £1). Although this might seem like the cheapest, most obvious option, note that the database and information is not as user-friendly as the others. Free demo is available.
  • Directory of Directors – online database of over 53,000 directors and officers and over 13,000 companies. All information is updated every month and information in the listed company snapshot reports is updated every day. The hardback directory comes free when you subscribe for the online version. The printed version cost about £279 (inc. charity discount) while the online version (accessed via Hemscott Company Guru) costs £1,500 + VAT but you might be able to get a charity discount on this price.
  • Corporate Register – a quarterly publication (book) containing information on all of the UK’s 2,000 quoted companies, 14,000 senior executives and 1,800 professional advisers, including details on remuneration, career, hobbies and interests, Universities attended etc. It comes as either a CD-ROM or a book and costs about £250 per year.

If you talk to people in fundraising/prospect research they will all have their own opinion as to which database/resource is the best in terms of information and value for money, but it is important if you are thinking about a subscription, to trial as many products as you can. The vast majority will offer some kind of free trial and don’t be put off by pushy sales people. Most don’t understand the sector so stay firm and don’t commit to anything until you’ve trialled as many as you can.

Clearly I don’t have access to all these resources, so if you have a subscription to one or more and would like to share your opinons about any of the products (or suggest others), please do so below. Of particular interest would be the cost of some of these!

Categories: Corporate Fundraising Resources

Resource Type: Blog

Posted by Beccy Murrell

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