The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey has launched a new Government initiative to support philanthropy in Ireland. He outlined a 5 point plan:
- An acknowledgement of the positive contribution of philanthropy in Irish society and the potential to grow planned giving in the next decade;
- Implementing an effective regulatory framework for charitable organisations in Ireland;
- A commitment to keeping the taxation climate for philanthropy under review;
- Supporting the development of an infrastructure in relation to giving; and
- Renewing the mandate for Forum on Philanthropy for another 2 years.
(nothing much concrete in there!)
Announcing the initiative, Minister Carey said: “I am delighted to launch the Government’s five point plan to develop philanthropy in Ireland. Despite current economic conditions, there remains an untapped potential for philanthropic growth in this country.
“By preparing the ground now and putting in place a more enabling environment for planned giving, I believe we can reap the benefits as we emerge from recession and our economic growth recovers.”
Today’s initiative builds on the work of the Forum on Philanthropy, which was established by Government in 2006. The Forum was set up to develop measures to encourage philanthropy in Ireland, by creating a more supportive environment for planned giving.
It also aims to foster an environment of “mutual trust and information exchange” between public and private sector interests involved in philanthropy.
“What we are trying to do through this plan is to lay more secure foundations so that the culture of philanthropy can become more engrained in Irish society,” Minister Carey said.
“Fostering such a climate of giving in these uncertain times will be challenging I know but, I believe, it is possible and that progressing the different elements in the plan will be an important part of the overall jigsaw,” he concluded.
A report launched to coincide with the Minister’s announcement shows that the percentage of disposable incomes people in the Republic give to charity is below the US, the UK and many other European countries.
Philanthropy in the Republic of Ireland , by consultants McKinsey Company, found levels of giving in Ireland have not kept pace with the country’s wealth. The report found that while only one in ten Irish people do not give to charity, giving tends to be unplanned and donations tend to be quite small.
“Rising disposable income levels in Ireland have not translated proportionally into rising levels of charitable giving,” the report said.
It also said ultra-wealthy Irish families are not engaging in philanthropy at a level that reflects their means. And it said the Irish foundation sector is underdeveloped and its long-term future is uncertain.
There are only 30 active grant-making foundations in Ireland compared to more than 8,000 in the UK. Ireland lags far behind the European average of 20 foundations per 100,000 people with only 0.7 per 100,000.
The research notes that the number of active grant-making foundations in Ireland lags considerably behind the European average on a per capita basis.
“We are facing a potential worsening of this situation with the scheduled closure by 2016 of three limited life foundations that provide the vast majority of annual grants to causes in Ireland,” the Minister said. “Unless new foundations replace these, total foundation giving in Ireland faces a considerable decrease in the coming years.”
The report also notes that few Irish companies have a corporate foundation and that, consequently, Irish corporate giving lags well behind international benchmarks