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More philanthropy research in Ireland needed, seminar told

More philanthropy research in Ireland needed, seminar told

Research into in has improved but is still limited, a recent seminar in Dublin has heard.

The European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP) ‘Giving in Europe’ factsheet rates the Irish research as a little more encouraging, with Ireland populating the middle ‘representative’ band of participating countries. This was revealed during a Philanthropy Ireland event for a group of philanthropic foundations and researchers who assembled in Dublin to present the first insights into a recent survey on philanthropy.

Dr Gemma Donnelly-Cox of the Centre for Nonprofit Management at Trinity College Dublin presented her research findings based on the survey of Irish foundations as part of the pilot Global Philanthropy Report (GPR), coordinated by the Kennedy School at Harvard University.

The response rate to the survey was very small, as even the number of foundations in Ireland is proportionally smaller than other countries of its size. However, the research still offered extensive information on the organisation, governance, financial resources, operational strategies and scope of philanthropic foundations and giving in Ireland, according to the researchers.

 Some of the key findings from the first analysis of the research data include:

• Two-thirds of the foundations that responded to the survey were established since 1990.

• The total assets held by the respondent foundations is approximately €326 million, with almost half of this (46% or €153 million) held by independent foundations, the remaining with community (€74 million), corporate (€55 million) and family (€44 million) foundations.

• Grants and scholarships are largely the way in which respondents distribute funding and the beneficiaries span a wide range of functional areas and key demographics.

This is the first time in a decade that Ireland has had any research of this kind on philanthropy.

Deirdre Mortell of the Social Innovation Fund said there is an interest from the wider sector to set a strong research agenda. At the seminar speakers suggested that they hoped that any new evidence could contribute to informing the next direction for State policy in the area of philanthropy. This is especially important as the mandate for the State-supported Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising expired at the end of 2016.


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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