Philanthropy Ireland Member Status Update Note as of March 2023

Setting the Context

The development of government policy for the advancement of philanthropy in Ireland has, for some time, been a key ambition of stakeholders across the philanthropic community. Over 10 years has elapsed since the previous publication by government of a statement of strategy and intent to support the development of philanthropy in Ireland. Implementation of recommendations at that time, while not fully activated, saw some successes, and provided crucial insights and learning.

Stated actions in their department plan to support delivery of this objective are to:
Support the growth and development of philanthropy in Ireland, learning from experiences in other countries. Develop a National Philanthropy Policy in consultation with stakeholders, drawing on commissioned research and experience in other EU countries and similar philanthropic environments.

Philanthropy Ireland linked closely with DRCD over the last 24 months to proactively support and engage on the advancement of these actions, with significant investment of time. While the process has taken longer than anticipated and hoped for, it would appear to be moving to final stages before publication of a draft policy for public consultation.
It is in this context that we provide this note to share our reflections and insights with you our members on the status of the development of philanthropy policy.

How is it shaping up?

Key sources of information for drafting of the policy were:

- Research commissioned by DRCD on the landscape of philanthropy in Ireland

– Consultant report on outcomes of consultative workshop convened by DRCD, Dec ‘21

– Inputs from members of the National Advisory Group (NAG), appointed and convened by Minister O’Brien
in April ’22, the group met on 4 occasions in that year.

Minister Joe O’Brien with some of the members of the National Advisory Group (Feb 2023)

  • Membership of the NAG reflected a wide cross section of perspectives with stakeholders in philanthropy (including the various models of philanthropy), government, wider not for profit sector, academia and related advisory.
  • While arguably there are gaps emerging in the detail of the impending document, it is fair to expect:

– This will always be the case where a wide range of views must be considered.
– A continuous learning curve there being no clear answers.
– All stakeholders are working within boundaries of responsibility and accountability.
– There will be further opportunity to input and shape at further stages, including public consultation, implementation oversight, strategic review, etc.

  • There are five key themes emerging as key considerations in the policy:
  • For each of these themes the policy will outline overarching actions, detailed sub actions to emerge through activation of the key action. Consideration has been given to what these will look like but will not be detailed in the document.

Reflections on where the process is at:

  • There are positive indicators that Minister O’Brien remains fully committed to taking a final draft forward for consideration by Cabinet colleagues; this is important given the significant increase in his own responsibilities with his expanded portfolio.

  • It is important that we strive for the best possible, which will not be ‘perfect’; this is the first real opportunity in 10+ years to get government statement on philanthropy. While it is important not to cut corners or ‘settle’, it is equally important to maintain a forward momentum.

  • Compromise is fundamental in the process; officials in the department will not bring forward anything they know will not be accepted and therefore will be striving to ensure acceptance rather than risking the possibility of rejection and all that would entail.

  • As a time-framed policy draft, it vitally provides a platform on which to build; proposed as a 5yr plan with a 3yr review, this provides opportunity for further development; precedent for ongoing development has been set by other policies, e.g., the Social Enterprise Policy and Volunteering Policy. This augurs well.

  • Actions are framed to provide scope on implementation options; many actions may not be explicitly stated but will be understood within an overarching action; sub actions will be developed for all the stated actions.

  • The proposed establishment of a Philanthropy Policy Implementation Group will provide a space to further influence, expand and develop actions; this group will be important in its composition and working arrangements and has yet to be decided.

  • Timelines are increasingly important if the policy is to be agreed within current term of government; it is vital that we get to final draft stage and move to public consultation by early Q2 ‘23 if there is to be a policy document ready for government consideration and sign off after summer and before year end.

  • It is intended that a final draft will be agreed in coming weeks for Public Consultation Process. This is a vital stage; we will be urging all stakeholders to engage on the draft document and to make submissions.

Next Steps:

We will keep you updated on developments by:
Circulating a further note when final draft is being moved to public consultation
We will keep you updated on developments by:
Convening of roundtable sessions providing opportunity for discussion
We will support engagement with the consultation process by:
Developing a framework of considerations to support member submissions
We will support engagement with the consultation process by:
Engaging in a strategy of communication with wider stakeholder cohort to encourage positive engagement with the policy.

If there is anything further you would like to discuss on this please fell free to contact us at any stage.

Finally, a word of thanks to our members who have given so willingly of their time on the NAG, it is always challenging but inputs and engagement of this nature have been essential to the process.

Éilis Murray
CEO, Philanthropy Ireland

14th March 2023