With the poor economy and funding cuts creating difficulties for many charities, Giving Northern Ireland, a new umbrella organisation that champions philanthropy, is calling for a more tactical approach to helping those in need.
Giving Northern Ireland will focus on High Net Worth Individuals and Corporates to build a strong independent voice for giving.
Gary Mills, Chairman of Giving Northern Ireland, which is being co-funded by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland and The Atlantic Philanthropies, said that the aim of the new organisation is to draw attention to all philanthropic activities in Northern Ireland and encourage more people to become involved in strategic giving.
He said: “We need to demystify the word ‘philanthropy’ and make it more accessible to the population at large. We also want to attract more of the wealthy in Northern Ireland to become more strategic in their giving and to be more responsive to those who need it most. We also want to highlight that philanthropy is not just about giving money. It also involves people contributing their time and expertise.
“With the current economic recession putting more and more pressure on the Voluntary and Community Sector and charitable organisations under increasing pressure, there is no better time to be giving. Northern Ireland is attracting much less international funding with the result that people are suffering and help is needed more than ever.
“To launch the new organisation in April, Giving Northern Ireland held a series of events and was instrumental in arranging Philanthropy Fortnight. Giving Northern Ireland was hosted at a reception in the US Consulate prior to officially launching at Stormont; the group also held a business event with the Institute of Directors to reveal new research, aimed at understanding local giving.”
This research report ‘Giving By High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) in Northern Ireland’ found that while there is a relatively small pool of HNWIs in Northern Ireland, many are involved in active giving.
The report revealed that most prefer to keep their giving private and identifies this culture of private philanthropy as a barrier to giving in Northern Ireland. While Giving Northern Ireland respects an individual’s right to privacy, the report highlights the need for role models or champions to talk publicly about their experience of giving.
Renowned global expert Ellen Remmer, of US-based The Philanthropic Initiative, spoke at the launch of Giving Northern Ireland and argued philanthropy in Northern Ireland was being held back because of the unwillingness of donors to come forward and persuade their peers to give.
“One of the biggest challenges will be the very private culture you have in Northern Ireland. There do not seem to be a lot of donors who are willing to stand up, challenge and inspire their peers to give,” she said.
The new organisation will offer a range of services including skills training for wealth advisors and fund-raisers and peer networking opportunities for high net worth individuals to share experiences. The focus is on strategic giving and how to make the most of time and donations.
It will also provide training and mentoring opportunities for the next generation of philanthropists, the children of today’s high earners, to help them on their philanthropic journey.