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Make a Difference 2020

NOW is the time to give!

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Éilis Murray

CEO, Philanthropy Ireland

As the scale of the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, so too does the scale of people in need.  While government must shoulder the primary burden of response, they cannot do it alone. We are in this together.

All sectors of society have been impacted, but it is the most vulnerable who are at greatest risk. The not-for-profit sector, champions of the marginalised and the vulnerable, is under unprecedented pressure.

Charities are facing a funding crisis, immediate estimates in the region of €380m. This comes at a time when demand for many services is rapidly increasing and new challenges are emerging from COVID-19.

There are no clear or easy answers. We are all struggling to find our way, but we are united in that struggle.

Significant support is needed

What we do know is that, without significant increase in support and resources, many not-for-profit organisations will need to either cut back on services or ultimately cease operations.

Either outcome will severely impact our society, economically and socially, with potentially serious repercussions on vulnerable communities.

So, how has philanthropy responded? Very positively, in short! Philanthropic organisations, such as The Community Foundation for Ireland, The Ireland Funds and basis.point, set up COVID-19 Response Funds.

In partnership with government, Social Innovation Fund Ireland has established the ‘Innovate Together Fund’.

We encourage all who can – companies, individuals, families, and all funders, to give at this time of critical need.

Several individual donors are quietly stepping in and supporting causes they are close to. Many donors may be keen to respond but are somewhat overwhelmed by the decision on where to get involved.

Funds, such as those outlined above, could provide a good starting point. To those who can, engagement in giving is critical at this time. Public responses from donors can inspire others.

Positive response from businesses

The business community is responding. Corporate funds, such as the AIB €2.4m COVID-19 research support or the Bank of Ireland €1m Community Fund, provide support for tackling both long-term change and urgent needs.

Funds such as those of Medtronic, over $10m in worldwide support, the Websummit donation of €1m, or the €500k from Intel, have a real impact. But there is so much more that can be done and so much more is needed.

We face much uncertainty in the coming weeks and months as the crisis continues to unfold. We do not know how the external environment will manifest itself. We do not know what our reality will be. So, we need to remain open. In such uncertainty, philanthropy can play a real role.

We encourage all who can – companies, individuals, families, and all funders, to give at this time of critical need.

If possible, increase your giving. Work with or through organisations who are already grant-making, such as our own members. Or provide direct support to the non-profits you know and are concerned about, those you have worked with, those you believe in.

It is a long game, but we are truly all in this together. Let’s give what we can together, to both protect and rebuild our society.

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