Philanthropic Giving in Ireland: A Scoping Project

31 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2019

See all articles by Oonagh B. Breen

Oonagh B. Breen

Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin

Patricia Quinn


Date Written: December 12, 2019


For a developed country, with a reputation for generosity towards the needy, Ireland has a very limited profile in structured, persistent philanthropic giving. At €120m, institutional philanthropic giving (as defined) represents a tiny proportion of Ireland’s €11bn turnover in the non-profit sector. Philanthropists need evidence of need and potential impact if their donations are to be well informed; the public needs to witness and approve of the effects of philanthropy if philanthropy is to be recognised as creating social goods; policymakers need tangible evidence to support decision-making including tax regulation.

Recognising the growing coalition of interest in measuring philanthropy and the lack of any Irish equivalent to the annual surveys produced overseas, this paper sets out to close the knowledge gap by identifying the factors necessary to make Irish philanthropy more transparent and better understood.

Supported by Benefacts, a leading non-profit research body in Ireland, the researchers aim to conduct a multi-annual research project 2018–21 to set out for the first time an agreed definition of ‘philanthropy’ in the Irish context and to provide a comparative basis for the study of Irish philanthropy by third party researchers. This paper is the first step towards facilitating valid international philanthropic comparisons between Ireland and other similar countries. Identifying the available data sources on, and gaps in knowledge about, philanthropy in Ireland, focusing specifically on gifts and receipts, it assesses the discernible trends in philanthropic giving in Ireland.

Keywords: Philanthropy, Ireland, definition, measurement, regulation

Suggested Citation

Breen, Oonagh B. and Quinn, Patricia, Philanthropic Giving in Ireland: A Scoping Project (December 12, 2019). UCD Working Papers in Law, Criminology & Socio-Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13/2019, Available at SSRN: or

Oonagh B. Breen (Contact Author)

Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin ( email )

Sutherland School of Law
Dublin 4

Patricia Quinn

Benefacts ( email )

United States

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