From our CEO, Éilis Murray

2024 has been proclaimed as the year of the election. With 64 countries heading to the polls for national elections, combined with European Union elections, it is estimated that almost half the world’s population will be eligible to exercise their vote this year. A national election will take place in a matter of months here in Ireland, while Local and European elections are already set.  

Key takeaways 

Why does this matter for philanthropy in Ireland? 

The shape of the political landscape can influence both how philanthropy operates and the causes it can impact. Political outcomes have potential to impact a wide range of civil society issues supported by philanthropy. This is why awareness and understanding of the intersectionality of philanthropy and the political landscape is important.  

Government commitment to philanthropy in the delivery of the National Philanthropy Policy 2024 -2028 provides a solid foundation to advance a culture of philanthropy in Ireland, setting out pathways for citizens to become more engaged in supporting their communities. Implementation of the policy will provide the critical measure of success.  

Having a five-year plan of interdependent actions, ongoing political will and commitment, along with an engaged sector with clear leadership will be vital to realise the ambition.   

Never been more need for philanthropic giving 

As a society, we are facing significant challenges. Whether related to climate change, public health, or social inequality, the scale of needs is beyond the capacity of any single actor. Collective action is not just desirable, it is essential. We need to maximise our use of public and private resources, including philanthropy.  

The agency of both political and philanthropic actors, when harnessed collectively, can be a positive force for meaningful change. It has potential to unlock vital resources, reimagine solutions, mobilise supports and take risks necessary to build a more resilient and equitable society. If we can realise effective collaborations of philanthropy and policy, there is real potential to utilise resources to maximise impact and achieve sustained outcomes.    

This is not unachievable. Philanthropy is happening every day, it is an integral part of our everyday lives, it weaves through many aspects of everyday living touching all corners of society. It might happen in different ways, impacting different issues at different points in time. But it is there.  

Relationship between public and private funding 

The relationship between public funding and private funding is mutually beneficial. Philanthropy can act as a tool to support societal objectives and many of our members are engaging with Government to make this a reality.  

The ultimate impact of philanthropic funding can extend beyond the face value of metrics. It can encompass discourse shifts and policy changes. It can elevate issues onto relevant agendas, creating space for respectful dialogue, creating pathways for tangible policy transformations. It can work with policymakers. 

Navigating the landscape of intersectionality of funding requires a strategic approach but is very possible and likely not as daunting as it may first appear, for either philanthropy or political stakeholders.  

Philanthropy engaging with policy stakeholders fosters mutual learning and advocacy efforts. Coordination is important, not only to prevent unnecessary overlaps but also to share experiences and insights.  

Fostering a positive relationship between philanthropy and Government can advance important areas of philanthropy such as place-based giving and cross-border giving. There is huge potential in supporting local communities through matched and coordinated funding. Similarly on an international level, philanthropy can be further supported to give across borders, which is becoming increasingly important. Philanthropy can play a convening and connecting role which might not be possible in the political sphere.  

Overcoming the challenge of collaboration to maximise impact 

There is no doubt that collaboration can be challenging. It can cause discomfort, it can bring stakeholders into choppy waters, it can appear time consuming and exhausting.  But if we can move beyond the immediate discomforts, it can be quite powerful. It can build a unique intelligence, facilitating scenario building, testing, and reflecting on options to move forward, to become unstuck.  

The inclination to work collaboratively grows with trust, yet trust is built through collaboration as it facilitates mutual understanding.  

The emphasis on collaboration and transparency in the National Philanthropy Policy seeks to enable a more cohesive and responsive philanthropic ecosystem, aligned with committed and responsive government engagement. The onus is on all stakeholders to find and work with the points of intersection to support this ambition being realised.  

Agency of all stakeholders should not be underestimated. Political outcomes can have the power to determine and shape our landscape for many years.  

Yes, there will be areas where philanthropy will not have a relevant role to play. But let’s commit to identifying the points of intersection where actors in policy and actors in philanthropy can work collectively and collaboratively to maximise positive social impact. 

In conclusion, the intersectionality of philanthropy and the political landscape holds significant potential for driving positive social impact and transformative change. As we navigate the dynamic political landscape of national and European elections in 2024, the importance of collaboration, transparency, and mutual understanding between philanthropic and policy stakeholders becomes increasingly apparent.  

By fostering a positive relationship between philanthropy and government, leveraging resources effectively, and working together towards shared societal objectives, we can harness the collective agency of all stakeholders to address pressing challenges and create a more resilient and equitable society. Moving forward, it is crucial for stakeholders to continue building trust, exploring points of intersection, and committing to collaborative efforts that maximize the impact of philanthropic initiatives for the benefit of communities both locally and internationally.