Recent events around the world including the corona-virus and political and racial unrest have drawn public attention to the inequality that exists in society today. Philanthropy has the opportunity to make society a more equal place for everyone to live. Through strategic and long term giving, philanthropy can support organisations who strengthen equality in our communities and help build a society where all people are treated and valued equally. The organisations supported by philanthropy, make real impact helping marginalised and minority groups by helping to remove the barriers these groups face throughout their lives.

Philanthropy Ireland memberRethink Irelandare at the forefront of facilitating change in Ireland through giving. Through their Equality Fund2020–2023, Rethink Ireland seek to support civil society organisations who challenge the inequalities that exist in Irish society and who help create a country where everyone can feel accepted and thrive.

The awardees from Rethink’s 2019 Equality Fund showcase the incredible work being done to make Ireland a more equal place. TheAmal Women’s Associationis Muslim led service responding to the needs of women across Ireland. Amal’s Cultural Advocacy and Mediation Project’ (CAMP) supported by the equality fund, will address the difficulties faced by Muslim women and women with connections to the Muslim community. The majority of these women are migrants and, as such, often face difficulties when accessing public services in the context of individual and family crises.

Similarly, Moving Forward was another programme to receive funding from Rethink’s Equality Fund. It is an online e-health initiative developed by Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) in order to increase their capacity to help and support those who have experienced rape and other forms of sexual violence, and to remove barriers to accessing such support. In an innovative approach, they will have an assessment of suitability for the programme by a DRCC therapist, online modules undertaken at the user’s own pace, and telephone support. The programme is targeted towards those on a waiting list for counselling, those who do not want to attend face-to-face counselling, people who may prefer to access web-based information, and those who cannot access services

With a track record of supporting marginalised communities across Ireland, St. Stephens Green Trust have recently launched the SSGT Connecting Communities Grant Programme. Applications for grants are now being invited from groups working with asylum seekers in two areas: activities for children living in direct provision centres and strengthening the voice and participation of asylum seekers in decision making and structures which affect them. This programme builds on the work that SSGT have done previously with migrants, helping to contribute to the goal of vulnerable migrants becoming full members of Irish society through dismantling barriers to integration. They have also made impact within the traveller community by concentrating on areas that progress their life chances and participation in Irish society including increasing participation in employment and enterprise. These groups are often forgotten in society but the work carried out by SSGT and the organisations it supports help to give these vulnerable communities an equal place in society.

Another Philanthropy Ireland member,Community Foundation for Ireland helps people make a difference by inspiring a spirit of giving and by investing in people and solutions to benefit every community. They believe in equality and fairness for all members of society and have provided almost €1 million to LGBT+ groups. Community Foundation for Ireland provided funding for setting up National Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Helpline. Other grants provided include BeLonGTo Youth Service, Rainbow Support Service, National LGBT Federation, TransParenCi and many more. There is much more that needs to be done to support and help change attitudes toward the LGBT+ community but the impact being made by CFI and other philanthropic organisations are helping to make real progress.

It is organisations like these who are making real change, helping Ireland to become a more inclusive and equal place for all its citizens. Philanthropy can serve as a catalyst for action and positive social change, by supporting communities and organisations who can achieve lasting impact. As a society, we have equal individual responsibility to support such initiatives and to view our actions through a lens of equality.

By Louise Barrett, Philanthropy Ireland.