Éilis Murray, CEO, Philanthropy Ireland: ‘Our members disburse over €200m annually'

Philanthropy isn’t just for deep pockets and high profile individuals. There are ways for us all to make a long-term difference. From the December issue of IMAGE Magazine, Jillian Bolger meets Éilis Murray, CEO, Philanthropy Ireland, who shares her thoughts on giving wisely.

The representative body for the philanthropic sector in Ireland, Philanthropy Ireland represents, and works with, members to promote the concept of philanthropy, its policy development, and to advocate best practice.

Our members are made up of individuals, corporates, trusts and foundations, actively providing strategic support to causes and projects in Ireland and overseas. Our members disburse over €200m annually, delivering support to over 2,000 projects and groups in communities across Ireland and abroad.

The scope includes projects working with minority groups and local communities, and empowerment through education, community, health, children’s rights, equality, older people, arts and culture; there is also active engagement with the latest social enterprises.


"Philanthropy is more than making one-off gifts. It’s about strategic support, for maximum impact.”

Philanthropy is not the same as reactive giving. As a nation, we are extremely generous, but philanthropy is more than making one-off gifts during times of disasters or responding to a charity today. At its core, philanthropy is about strategic support, for maximum impact. It asks the question, what do you want to see changed as a result of your giving?

While female donors are interested in supporting a wide spectrum of causes, they do seem to be particularly drawn to funding initiatives that empower females: gender is an influencing factor in their giving. They tend to be more pragmatic than idealistic or pioneering donors, but still have high expectations in terms of outcomes and results. Much of their giving is based around a relationship of trust with the non-profit organisation they are giving to. Women also tend to be more collaborative in their giving.

Today, a model that is particularly popular with female donors is the giving circle, which is formed when a group of individual donors come together and pool their donations (time, treasure, or talent) for greater impact. This can be a group of friends, colleagues or members of a community. They can then invite projects to pitch to them for funding and decide as a group which ones they are going to collectively support. It’s a very social way to increase the impact of your giving, learn more about philanthropy and about the needs of your community. A women’s giving circle is a great way to empower female philanthropists in your community. You may choose to distribute your gift via an existing fund such as The Ireland Funds, or The Community Foundation for Ireland.

Ireland tends to struggle with the concept of philanthropy, where we very much associate the word with the super-wealthy American philanthropists that we see in the media. We can all be philanthropists and contribute strategically to our favourite causes and charities. One great way to contribute is by considering the three Ts of philanthropy: time, treasure and talent.


Portrait by Ruth Connolly.


This article originally appeared in the December issue of IMAGE Magazine. 

Read more: How she does it: Triona McCarthy's party-prep beauty tips

Read more: Can you Marie Kondo your mind? Yes, you can, and here’s why you should

Read more: 5 ways to help you fend off festive anxiety this year

The image newsletter