Philanthropy in Ireland
Planting the Seeds of Philanthropy in Ireland
Philanthropy in Ireland, although it has grown rapidly in the last decade, is still in its infancy and will be facing severe headwinds in the next few years as the economy contracts and wealth evaporates. Despite that, and as in all countries, the non-profit sector is large and growing.
- There are 24,000 voluntary organisations in Ireland, of which over 7,500 are registered charities.
- The sector employs 63,000 people, nearly 9% of the workforce and makes up 8.4% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Put against the U.S. market it is obviously much smaller and also has a much lower rate of philanthropic activity.
- There are over 1 million 501(c) 3 public charities in the U.S. 3 out of 4 people donate
- 16 million people sit on non-profit boards
- 65 million people volunteer regularly
- Americans gave over $300 billion to charity last year
- Probably the statistics that most underline the difference is the fact that there are 101,000 Foundations in the U.S., over 9,000 in the UK and only 26 in Ireland.
The Ireland Funds
There is a lot of work to be done, particularly to bring best overseas Philanthropic practice to Ireland. This is something The Ireland Funds have been actively engaged in for many years through conferences, seminars, publications, and presentations. In addition, we have met with many hundreds of our grantees to pass on advice, suggestions, and tips to help them in their efforts. Key to the growth of the sector in Ireland is building capacity, and key to that is increasing the skills of those working in the sector.
The Ireland Funds, thanks to the enlightened generosity of a long time supporter, funded the first-ever course on Philanthropy and Fundraising in Trinity College Dublin bringing in experts from Indiana University in the United States. Twenty seven executives of Irish non-profits attended this course, with many more on a waiting list. Also, The Ireland Funds executives taught in this course. Other examples of initiatives taken in this area include funding research in the sector (where there is a real dearth) and working with and funding key bodies such as the Irish Charities Tax Reform Group, Philanthropy Ireland and the European Association of Planned Giving. In addition, there is increasing interest from other countries in Diaspora Philanthropy -now made much more feasible through technology and communications. Many other countries want to learn from The Ireland Funds’ experience and see if they can develop similar global networks.
Examples of countries wanting to learn this “IP” from us are Scotland, Australia, Turkey, Venezuela, Chile and South Africa. The category is also attracting increasing attention from organisations such as the World Bank and private Foundations.