Frequently Asked Questions about The Counter:
- What is The Counter?
- Who is eligible to request corporate research from The Counter?
- Who is not eligible to request corporate research from The Counter?
- What sort of company information does The Counter provide?
- What sort of information does The Counter not provide?
- Where does The Counter get the company information?
- How can I submit a request?
- Can I submit a request on my mobile phone?
- When will I hear back from The Counter?
- What happens if The Counter cannot help me?
- How can SOMO provide free corporate research to support social justice movements worldwide?
What is The Counter?
The Counter is a global helpdesk providing corporate research to activists working to hold companies accountable for societal and environmental harms. SOMO has supported social justice groups and communities fighting corporate power for decades. The Counter’s dedicated company investigators will expand SOMO’s reach to help those most in need.
Who is eligible to request corporate research from The Counter?
Activists, public interest journalists, NGOs, trade unions, strategic litigators, and communities that are working to protect human rights, prevent environmental and climate collapse, reclaim public spaces from corporations, and expose unfair and destructive business practices are eligible to make requests to The Counter, provided they do not have the means to pay for such corporate research support.
Who is not eligible to request corporate research from The Counter?
Not eligible for The Counter’s services: companies and commercial enterprises, individuals or investors with financial interests, governments, donors (unless the request originates from a harmed community), and individuals who are not linked to the harm caused by the company. Activists who have the means to pay for these services are also not eligible. Requests must fall within the remit of SOMO’s mission and vision.
What sort of company information does The Counter provide?
The Counter will try to provide information on company finances, ownership, investors, corporate and capital structures, subsidiaries, supply chains, governance and operations if the information is accessible and available. If we cannot find or access the information, we cannot provide it. The Counter’s researchers will provide the information and data found, the sources used in the search, a summary of the findings, and, if requested, possible suggestions for further action.
What sort of information does The Counter not provide?
The Counter will NOT provide support for:
- requests to be used for fundraising;
- as input for multi-stakeholder initiatives;
- requests without a clear purpose or a purpose outside of SOMO’s mission and vision;
- requests that do not serve the public interest or address corporate power;
- requests to benchmark, categorise or evaluate corporate content, including CSR;
- requests to write or publish articles, reports, and statements;
- urgent requests requiring an answer within 48 hours;
- requests that take an extended period of time to investigate,
- and importantly, requests that can only be answered based on non-available information. The Counter does not have access to internal or confidential company documentation.
Where does The Counter get the company information?
The Counter’s team will search online for publicly available data, open source information, and data and company filings from business registries worldwide. We also gather information from various subscription corporate databases used by SOMO for company investigations.
How can I submit my request?
You can submit your request via an online form by following the steps below:
- Step 1: Follow this link (opens in new window) to create an account on our online helpdesk tool, Zammad.
- Step 2: Verify your email and finish creating your account by filling in your name, email and password.
- Step 3: Once logged in, you will see a form (called a ticket) where you can begin working on your submission.
- Step 4: Start by giving a title to your submission. Please choose a title highlighting your request (such as Swiss pharma supply chain, Tracking illegal oil, Flooding in Peru).
- Step 5: Use the text box (750-word limit) to summarise and explain your corporate research request as clearly as possible.
- Step 6: Fill in the name and purpose of your organisation, the name(s) of the companies involved, location, contact details, a timeline, and possible future action. Additional background may also be provided.
- Step 7: Hit send! After filling out and submitting this form, you will receive an automatic email with your ticket number and a confirmation that your request is at The Counter.
Can I submit a request on my mobile phone?
We recommend that you use the desktop version of Zammad on a desktop. If you cannot access a desktop or tablet, please use the desktop version on your mobile phone.
When will I hear back from The Counter?
Once you submit the online form, you will get an automatic response to confirm your request is in our queue. The Counter team assesses new requests weekly, so you should hear back from us within two weeks if we can help you. We could respond with the research, have follow-up questions, or say we are not able to answer your questions. All research support is subject to our guidelines and capacity. If we have follow-up questions, you will receive an email. It is important that you reply through the email thread only, without changing the subject line, or directly in Zammad, so that we are sure to receive your message.
What happens if The Counter cannot help me?
We will tell you if The Counter’s team cannot find the documentation or data you requested. If you think you are eligible for The Counter, but you are not, we will let you know. If your request for help is outside of our area of expertise, then we will try and refer you elsewhere.
How can SOMO provide free corporate research to support social justice movements worldwide?
SOMO received grants from funders to launch The Counter, including from the Dutch National Postcode Lottery and True Costs Initiative. This has enabled SOMO to expand our team of dedicated company investigators to offer corporate research support to those most in need.