Bill Clinton Lauds the One Percent Difference Campaign

An audience of 250 invited guests comprising of Irish business leaders, philanthropic groups, academics and government representatives gathered at the Conrad Hotel, Dublin on the evening of Wednesday, 9 October to hear former US President Bill Clinton share his insights into ongoing funding and fostering of philanthropy in Ireland. Delivering the annual Ray Murphy Memorial Lecture organised by The Forum on Philanthropy and Philanthropy Ireland, President Clinton was in Dublin to appeal to the business community and industry leaders to support Ireland’s struggling non-profit sector.

Delegates were asked to pledge their support for the ‘One Percent Difference’ campaign. This is a national campaign that is encouraging every individual and business in Ireland to give one percent of their time or income to a cause they care about with the aim of increasing private sector investment in the not-for-profit sector by 60% to €800 million by 2016.

“I think this 1% thing is a great idea” - Fmr Pres. Bill Clinton

Mr. John R Healy the vice chairman of Philanthropy Ireland introduced President Clinton saying, “We are honoured that President Clinton is joining us in our bid to raise the profile of the ‘One Percent Difference’ campaign and the challenges facing philanthropy in Ireland. Ray Murphy was a true pioneer of modern charitable foundation work and of philanthropy at home and abroad. It is a great honour that President Clinton has marked Ray’s contribution to the philanthropic sector in this manner.”

Mr. Healy reminded guests that: “the not-for-profit sector plays an important but under-appreciated role in modern Ireland. Not-for-profit organisations provide vital social services to literally hundreds of thousands of people. They offer citizens the opportunity to engage in society through volunteering. It is also worth noting that this sector in Ireland supports 100,000 jobs, which is as many as the hi-tech and pharmaceutical sectors combined, with a turnover of almost €6 billion.We like to regard ourselves as one of the most generous nations in the world. We are certainly generous in terms of the numbers who give their money and their time. However the quantum of giving does not compare to our neighbours in Europe and many of our corporations have yet to discover the benefits – to them – of engagement in philanthropy.”

President Clinton stated that Philanthropy was important for three reasons. “One is the large number … of people involved in charitable work meeting social needs in Ireland that would otherwise have to be met by the Government at a time of severe budgetary constraints or would not be met at all, and you wouldn’t be the same country if you just left all these things undone. Its also good for your economy… You’ve got 100,000 working in that. That has to be sustained and that is true of every economy in the world… Thirdly, there’s always going to be bad things happening where the public response will not be completely adequate… Philanthropy is also valuable in that it can take risks that Government cannot. You can lose a whole lot more votes with one bad story than you can with a 100 good ones… Increasingly what philanthropic groups are doing is trying to figure out how to how to solve problems faster, better, and at lower cost, because they can take risks and if they try and fail, nobody is going to vote them out of office.”

Turning to the One Percent Difference campaign President Clinton said “ So I think this 1% thing is a great idea for two reasons. One is it raises a lot of money. The second is that it would democratise giving further because everyone can afford it, and if you don’t have money you can give 1% of your time and make a contribution….I wish you well, I thank you for undertaking this project and I hope once again that before long the rest of the world will be not only admiring from you but learning from you.”

Frank Flannery, chairman of the Government-backed Forum on Philanthropy, which was appointed to drive development of philanthropy in Ireland and responded to President Clinton’s delivery of the Ray Murphy Memorial Lecture by stating: “with the winding down of the two major foundations, Atlantic Philanthropies and The One Foundation, the Irish charity sector is at crisis point with €50 – €60 million per annum to be replaced…Although as a nation, Ireland’s commitment to humanitarian aid is well-documented around the globe, it is surprising that corporate giving in this country is low and should be increased.

He went on to state that “The One Percent Difference campaign is an important fundraising initiative which strives to bridge the gap between the business community and charity sector and I ask everyone to lend their support to The Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising and Philanthropy Ireland in leading the charge to secure new sources of philanthropy to replace the enormous contribution made by funds like Atlantic Philanthropies and the One Foundation. We are facing a philanthropic cliff in Ireland and we need to act now to ensure that great and valuable projects in the not for profit sector do not run out of funding.”

Watch highlights of President Clinton’s speech below:
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