Department of Rural and Community Development.
1st December, 2017.
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank Philanthropy Ireland for your kind invitation to speak at this important event this morning. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Mott Foundation for their generous support of this event and the promotion and development of philanthropy over the past number of years, most notably through their funding of the Ray Murphy lecture series.
I am delighted to be here to share some insights with you on the future vision for the development of philanthropy in Ireland. This is a timely event as it is dedicated to donors and is an opportunity to develop new ideas to make philanthropy work for social impact in Ireland.
Philanthropy in its literal term means “the love of mankind”. A more contemporary definition would be “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of resources to good causes”. Put simply, philanthropy is about doing good by giving well for the benefit of society.
It is likely that we have all benefited in some way from philanthropy, given the major impact it has had on Irish society. For many of our much loved cultural institutions – theatres, libraries, galleries, the RDS – philanthropy played a major role in their development.
Philanthropy and community share many core values. Both are about giving, about seeking to make a difference in society and improving the wellbeing of our communities. As Minister of State in the Department of Rural and Community Development, I am particularly pleased to restate the Government’s commitment to working in partnership with you, the donors, for the continued development of philanthropy in Ireland.
We have had great leaders in philanthropy in Ireland – The Atlantic Philanthropies and their investment of over €1billion over 30 years, the evidence of their giving seen throughout the country in university campuses, social programmes and social change; The One Foundation and their investment of €85m over 10 years targeting solutions in the fields of Disadvantaged Children and Families, Youth Mental Health, Social Entrepreneurship.
We in Government are also playing our part. In 2012, the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising brought forward proposals to develop a strategy to develop philanthropy and fundraising in support of civil society. At the time, the Government saw an urgent need for such a strategy and also recognised the need for an appropriate infrastructure to facilitate philanthropy and investment in this country.
We are now five years on from the 2012 report. It must be acknowledged that much has been achieved. Nevertheless, it remains our ambition that the role and legitimacy of the contribution of philanthropy to Irish society will be properly understood, developed and valued. Cross sector partnership and collaboration – causes, donors and government – can maximise the influence and benefit of giving for the good of all.
An all island dimension is also important in this context. This reflects the spread of philanthropic activity north and south of the border and the value in working in partnership and collaboration. An all Island focus is a demonstration of solidarity, co-operation, mutual support and respect. These are all values fundamental to the philanthropic ethos. They reflect the needs in our changing times and the common challenges currently being faced
This event today will provide us with an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved to date and plan for the future. As we are all aware, there are always new issues, new challenges for society, new opportunities for the development of initiatives. Society does not stand still. And we all need to be part of the response to those needs.
Philanthropy needs and deserves debate, critical thinking and analysis. This forum provides a unique opportunity to contribute to that debate. And the insights gleaned will be warmly welcomed and considered.
I wish you every success with this forum. I am confident that it will assist in the development of a blueprint for the future of philanthropy in Ireland.