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Irish philanthropist’s giving falls

Irish philanthropist’s giving falls

One of ’s largest charitable foundation’s grant giving dropped by nearly €1 million last year, according to its latest accounts.

The Iris O’Brien Foundation provided grants of €3.7 million in 2018, down from €4.7 million the year before. The Foundation is funded by Denis O’Brien, 61, one of Ireland’s richest men, who has made a fortune in the telecom business and a host of other investments.

Mr O’Brien is also co-founder of Frontline, the international foundation for the protection of human rights defenders and through his Digicel Foundation, O Brien supports projects in Jamaica, Haiti and Papua New Guinea. He is chairman of the Haiti Action Network, which coordinates the activities of approximately 80 support organisations in Haiti.

The Foundation, set up in 2000, has continued the practice of splitting its giving between local and overseas charities. In 2017 overseas giving was €2.7 million but fell to €1.5 million in 2018. Domestic donations were €2.2 million in 2018, up from €1.8 million the year before.

The charitable purposes of the Foundation are to support activities in the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, doing of works for the public good and ‘activities of an ancillary and related nature.’

In practice the Foundation has supported charities working in the fields of advocacy and civil rights, arts and culture, asylum seekers/refugees, social enterprise and disaster relief.

The accounts record services provided to the Foundation to a value of €180,000. The Foundation shares offices owned by Mr O’Brien’s commercial operations.

Despite recording losses of over €400 million on the recent sale of his Independent newspaper chain Mr O’Brien’s net worth is still estimated by Forbes to be over €4 billion. The accounts state that Mr O’Brien will continue to support the Foundation in the future.




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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