Philanthropy provides chance to move from ‘failed Celtic Tiger era’, says Robinson

Hogan says no bounds to ‘legendary’ Irish generosity at launch of One Percent Difference

A new campaign aimed at boosting philanthropy in a time of recession was launched by former president Mary Robinson and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan yesterday.

Mrs Robinson said people and businesses could participate in the One Percent Difference campaign, organised by the Forum on Philanthropy and Fundraising, by providing either money or time.

“It’s an opportunity to think about how we need a new narrative about who we are as a people in Ireland, to move away as we have from the failed Celtic Tiger era and have a more positive sense of something that is part of our past that we can really build on,” she said.

The campaign website onepercentdifference.ie will help people calculate how much money or time they could donate and suggest which causes might benefit from their generosity.

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Atlantic Philanthropies and the Ireland Funds have invested “very significantly” in the campaign, according to Mr Hogan.

He called on the leaders of large businesses in particular to look again at their charitable giving, while acknowledging the last number of years had been tough for many.

Mr Hogan said there were no bounds to the “legendary” generosity of the Irish people, who continued to donate “despite everything”. He said the Coalition supported the campaign but insisted it was not designed to substitute for Government support of civil society.

Frank Flannery, chairman of the Forum on Philanthropy, called on the Department of Finance to “look with new eyes at this area and to do all it can to stimulate growth within it”.

He said philanthropy could make a huge difference in areas such as education, research and development, which were key to long-term economic recovery.

Mr Flannery said the Irish people had “always defied the vicissitudes of passing economics, to remain generous, noble and proud”.

RTÉ Morning Ireland presenter Áine Lawlor, who acted as master of ceremonies at yesterday's launch, said Irish people were already very generous with their money and time, but the campaign proposed a structure that would make their donations even more valuable.

Philanthropy Ireland’s executive director Seamus Mulconry agreed.

“The Irish people are fundamentally decent people who put their own shoulders to the wheel and get on with the business of helping those in need,” he said.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times