Background

The Community Foundation for Ireland was established in 2000 with the intention of helping to grow a philanthropic ethos within Ireland and building a perpetual fund to support charitable causes and communities in Ireland and overseas. In 1998, a paper discussing the establishment of a community foundation was produced on behalf of Combat Poverty. This led the Government to issue a challenge to the private sector to establish a community foundation. Founded by businesses, NGOs and employer organisations, the Government issued a challenge grant of £1million which helped kick start The Foundation’s endowed fund. This endowed fund has grown to exceed €40million today through the support of donors to The Community Foundation for Ireland. By the end of 2016, cumulative grant-making from the Foundation to charities in Ireland reached €30million.

Starting with a single community foundation in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914, the community foundation field has exploded, reaching 1,839 foundations worldwide today. Three-quarters of those were set up in the last 25 years. According to the Community Foundations Atlas, there are 1,031 community foundations in North America, 650 in Europe (of which 48 are located in the United Kingdom including The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland) and another 160 elsewhere in the world (including The Community Foundation for Ireland). Together they manage almost €60 billion in combined financial reserves.

View our Patron, President Michael D. Higgins’ special address at our Celebration of 100 years of the Global Community Foundation movement here.

To read President Michael D. Higgin’s full speech, visit the Áras an Uachtaraín website here.

According to ‘Dimensions of the Field’, an in-depth analysis of the international community foundation movement released by the Community Foundation Atlas in 2014, the recent explosion in growth is being driven by ““grassroots activism,” meaning that local people in more and more places are seeking this means of bettering their communities…Place-based philanthropy is on the rise globally in no small part because community foundations have resoundingly demonstrated to the world their ability to bring local people and resources to the table to address local needs.”

Defining a Community Foundation