Minister Joe O’Brien initiates national policy process on philanthropy

2nd December, 2021

At a major international conference on the future of philanthropy Local TD and Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien, started a process that will see the development of the first national philanthropy policy. The 10th International Research Conference of the European Research Network On Philanthropy, hosted online this week by the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin in partnership with Trinity College Dublin and Philanthropy Ireland brought together scholars from all disciplines and practitioners of philanthropy to discuss the purpose and practice of philanthropy across Europe and internationally.


The conference comes in the same week that Minister O’Brien’s Department published an Indecon report entitled ‘The Landscape of Philanthropic Giving in Ireland’ and Minister O’Brien says that now is the time to use the lessons learned from the early days of the pandemic when government, civil society, the Community and Voluntary sector, and philanthropic donors came together to respond to needs quickly and effectively. The report and the learnings from the conference are to be used to help develop a new national policy on philanthropy.


In his speech Minister O’Brien said we have a key moment to seize and that it’s important that philanthropic giving complements rather than substitutes public service provision:


“I have direct experience of the potential of philanthropy so it’s quite exciting for me to be involved in this process of kicking off the development of a national policy on philanthropy. 


“Philanthropic giving should complement, rather than be a substitute for, public service provision. Indeed, philanthropy can help to provide the freedom and support to the community and voluntary sector to rattle cages and to be critical of government policy. By its nature much philanthropic giving is very personal in its nature, this is what gives it its magic and it’s what unlocks generosity so it should never be lost. But the more that philanthropic giving can come together with specific strategic focuses the more sustained and truly change making philanthropy will be. My ambition is for the new national policy on philanthropy to provide that strategic focus.”


The next step in the process will be the formation of a consultative group that will help drive the development of the new policy.