Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ireland could be doing more good, while it's doing so well

Chuck Feeney, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies
Chuck Feeney, founder of Atlantic Philanthropies

Dr Jacob Gayle

Ireland should lead the world in bringing the public and private sectors together to deliver the UN's 17 development goals. Ireland is drawing more foreign direct investment, and across more sectors of the global economy, than ever before. But when it comes to corporate giving for social causes, the record in Ireland is less impressive. Last year, Ireland's largest companies contributed only €22m to community groups and organisations. Between only 2pc and 3pc of the income of Irish non-government organisations came from corporate donations.

Ireland trails Europe when it comes to social investment. Europe and Asia are now major givers, and Europe and the US are practically neck-and-neck. In the US, the contribution of private donors to social causes is about 2pc of GDP, with a heavy preponderance for religious giving.

Philanthropy in Ireland is relatively under-developed. Maybe it's felt that making a global difference through giving is beyond the reach of a small nation. Or that, as a people, the big gesture jars with the national spirit, with a tendency to regard wealth creation more cynically than others.

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