Reflections on Value of a National Philanthropy Policy 

The publication of the National Philanthropy Policy has been watched with interest by many of our European counterparts in the philanthropy space. At a recent meeting of Philea Philanthropy Infrastructure Organisations, (PIOs), I had the opportunity to share some reflections with my peers on the both the process and potential opportunities it engenders for the growth of philanthropy.  

Ireland is no different to many of our European counterparts in seeking to advance philanthropy for social good. While the scale of philanthropic giving in many countries far exceeds what we are seeing in Ireland, there are many commonalities in challenges being addressed.  

Building recognition, awareness, and understanding in both the intent and scope of philanthropy is a common feature. Cross-sector engagement, of public, private and corporate interests is challenging, yet building alignment on ambition is vital if we are to look to sustainability of philanthropy for public good. It is about adding and maximising value.  

Witnessing the growing needs across society and the uncertainties being faced, what is clear is the need to facilitate giving by creating an enabling environment that addresses barriers, promotes partnership, and engenders engagement. There is no one way to address the needs we are facing. We all need to be part of the solution, including philanthropy. But this demands co-operation and collaboration.  

Policy can provide a framework for effective co-operation and collaboration. While it is not a panacea, it can be a driver to effect collective change. It will not address or prioritise key needs of all stakeholders, but it can be empowering, providing the leadership needed to guide towards common goals and solutions. It can provide a foundation on which to build. 

This is what I believe is the ambition for a National Philanthropy Policy, whatever stage of development of philanthropy is at in a country. Implementation is vital, actions always speak louder than words. We know from research that globally there is capacity for greater and deeper private giving. A national policy, providing a framework to work collectively on implementation of policy actions, provides real prospect for advancing philanthropy. Whatever the start points, there is common ambition – to advance philanthropy for public good.  

As we approach European elections, we support the calls for support of the European Philanthropy Manifesto. We look forward to advancing messaging with our own candidates and garnering further support for philanthropy, via policy, most importantly via engagement with policy advancement.