Philanthropic donations almost doubled in 2020 in response to Covid-19

Community Foundation for Ireland disburses Late Late Toy Show €6.5 million

Donations from private and corporate donors almost doubled in 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Community Foundation for Ireland.

The philanthropic foundation, which disburses private donations into grants for charities and community groups, said it had issued more than €15 million in 1,377 grants to community, voluntary and charitable groups this year, averaging just under €11,000.

Viewers of The Late Late Toy Show generated €6.5 million generated for services aimed at children, which the foundation will disburse.

The RTÉ Does Comic Relief TV event in June raised €5.8 million, which was targeted at community groups to increase digital and technology support for frontline work as well as measures to protect against the virus.

Along with supports to deal with Covid-19 grants were also issued to groups engaging communities on climate action, restorative justice for young people and human rights. The foundation also looked at identifying future priorities, including support for all-island civic society engagement.

The foundation has issued grants totalling €65 million since it was established 20 years ago but described 2020 as a “record-breaking year” for private and corporate donations.

The organisation said it established a Covid-19 fund from private donations to respond to immediate emergency need, including Meals on Wheels, virtual supports for vulnerable young people and initiatives to help people with disabilities.

The foundation also highlighted the importance of legacies with the launch of the Hugh Leonard Fund in honour of the playwright. His literary estate has been made available by his daughter Danielle Byrne to support aspiring playwrights.

Chair of the foundation Mike Gaffney said: "This past year has made clear for all to see the role philanthropy can contribute to supporting vulnerable people, communities and our country.

“Much of the support has been targeted not only at responding to immediate need but also to give groups and communities the ability to plan for the longer-term by providing strategic and sustainable support.

“Despite the remarkable generosity of our donors it is also important to acknowledge that throughout the year demand for support still exceeded the levels of support available. As a foundation we are conscious that for many people and communities there remains great challenges.”

Chief executive of the foundation Denise Charlton said: "We are conscious as we face into 2021 that it too will bring its own challenges.

“The issues of climate change, domestic violence as well as rights for minorities such as travellers, migrants and LGBTI+ still need to be urgently addressed. Brexit and the post-Covid scenario will also present their own challenges.”