Irish Philanthropy Report Launched

A new report into the state of charitable donation in Ireland has found that the the percentage of disposable income given ny members of the public to charities in Ireland ranks below the US, the UK and many other European counties.

The report found that while 90% of Irish people do give the charity, the pattern of giving was irregular and often consisted of small amounts.

The report, 'Philanthropy in the Republic of Ireland' prepared by the McKinsey Company, has also found that levels of giving in Ireland have not kept pace with the increase in wealth in the country. The report found that while 90% of Irish people do give the charity, the pattern of giving was irregular and often consisted of small amounts.

The report stated that, “Rising disposable income levels in Ireland have not translated proportionally into rising levels of charitable giving.”

The report also focused on the state of giving from the richest Irish families and found that they are not engaging in philanthropy at a level that reflects their means. It also reported on the underdeveloped Irish foundation sector, which currently has only 30 active grant-making foundations (compared to more than 8,000 in the UK). The European average is 20 foundations per 100,000 people while Ireland averages 0.7 foundations for every 100,000 of its population.

Corporate philanthropy is also very low, the report said, especially by large Irish companies.

Some 25,000 non-profit organisations exist in Ireland, offering ample opportunities for philanthropic investment. They largely depend on Government funding, which is diminishing, the report said. It had dropped from 75 per cent in 1995 to 59 per cent in 2005 and is likely to decrease further.

The report further suggested that collaboration or consolidation of some existing charities would enable the sector to work more effectively and efficiently.

It also said that tax incentives for philanthropy are complicated and under-used at present. Unrestricted and less complex tax incentives could encourage active philanthropists to donate more while keeping their net contribution constant, it said.

The report also found that public perception and media coverage is sceptical of large-scale philanthropic engagement by the wealthy. The report said that, donors are under suspicion of gaining additional tax-breaks or other benefits from charitable donations.

“In the Irish debate about the social sector there seems to be no clear understanding of the role of philanthropy in a social democracy,” the report said.

Responding to the report, the Government has launched a plan to support philanthropy in Ireland. This includes introducing a Charities Regulatory Authority, as laid out in the Charities Act 2009.

Download the report here.