Irish government backs philanthropic push
The Taoiseach of Ireland Enda Kenny has welcomed the Report of the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising that sets out a strategy for promoting philanthropy across the country. “As we reimagine our economy and reinvent our economic future, philanthropy and fundraising have critical roles,” said Kenny.
The Irish government established the Forum on Philanthropy
in May 2006 with both government and private input. The Forum has set a target
to increase philanthropic giving by 10% year-on-year in Ireland from its
current level of approximately €500m per annum to €800m by 2016.
Room to grow
The report’s recommendations are intended to serve the
overarching aim of increasing private sector investment by creating a conducive
environment for individual and corporate philanthropy in Ireland. Irish rates
of philanthropy fall below many developed countries. Only 15% of Irish donors
give planned and regular donations compared to 36% of UK donors. There is also
room to improve the aggregate sum of gifts. On average only 0.8% of Irish
incomes are donated to charity, compared to more than 1% in the US and many European
countries. Britons donates an average of 1.2% of their incomes.
It also seems that the wealthiest are not pulling their
weight in the field. The top 400 Irish earners account for only 10% of
tax-deducted giving. In Germany, the UK, and the US, top earners account for
over 30% of private donations.
The report focuses heavily on the infrastructure of
philanthropy in Ireland, which it regards as relatively underdeveloped. There
are only around 30 active grant-making foundations in the country compared to
more than 8000 in the UK. Proportionally, the current level of 0.7 charitable
foundations per 100,000 inhabitants is far below the European average of 20. If
Ireland caught up there would be 857 grant-making foundations.
Corporate donations are also below average. The top 500
Irish corporations are donating less than 0.1% of pre-tax profits. Listed UK
corporations donate an average of 1.2% of pre-tax profits, on average 12 times
that of Irish contributions, an area where the report clearly believes the
country can improve.
The Forum hopes to raise the general profile of
philanthropy in Ireland. While 80% of professional advisors admitted that their
clients do not understand the concept of strategic philanthropy, 50% of those
surveyed had never discussed philanthropy with their clients and 18% stated
that they would not, unless the client raised the issue.
The report covers four specific areas for action: a
national giving campaign; fiscal and infrastructure recommendations; building
fundraising capacity; and a social innovation fund. The national giving
campaign would be carried out by a public-private partnership between
government and philanthropic organisations. It would focus on major public awareness
efforts and be run over a period of two to three years.
At the launch of the report, the Taoiseach noted that the Minister for Public Expenditure and
Reform is looking at models for social-impact investment in Ireland. “I look
forward to seeing concrete progress on these and other recommendations,” he said.
The full report can be downloaded here.