President Higgins makes a special address at Ireland’s celebration of 100 years of the Global Community Foundation Movement

BITCI News - May 26, 2014

Our sister organisation, The Community Foundation for Ireland, one of the country’s leading philanthropic organisations, recently launched its annual report at Ireland’s celebration of 100 Years of the Global Community Foundation movement at a lunch time event addressed by its patron, President Michael D. Higgins in The Westin Hotel, Dublin. In the light of growing concerns about accountability and transparency within some parts of the non-profit sector, the event further offered the chance to contribute to reflection and debate on key issues surrounding philanthropy in Ireland today.Business in the Community

2014 marks the 100 year anniversary since the establishment of the first community foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the following century the concept of community foundations spread globally and to Ireland in 2000 when The Community Foundation for Ireland was established.

Since its establishment, The Community Foundation for Ireland has awarded over €16.5m in grants and over €7.5m in the past three years alone. Today’s launch of its 2013 annual report reveals that through the generosity of donors and through income from its long term endowed fund, in 2013 the Foundation distributed over €3.5m through a wide range of grants – a record for The Foundation to date. A global success story for community foundations in 2013 was the decision of Facebook Co- Founder, Mark Zuckerberg to donate nearly $1bn to Silicon Valley Community Foundation in December, highlighting community foundations’ central role of facilitating investment in local causes and communities.

Inspired by the effectiveness and impact of community foundations globally, The Community Foundation for Ireland helps connect individuals, families and organisations with the causes that can make best use of their generosity. Working right across the country and having deep roots in the community, the Foundation believes in the power of philanthropy to deliver just and progressive social change, empowering people who want to make a difference through a proven model of philanthropy that is based on trust, effectiveness and impact.

Speaking at the event, Tina Roche, CEO, The Community Foundation for Ireland said:

“We are delighted and honoured to have our patron President Michael D. Higgins here today to address our celebration of the centenary of the Global Community Foundation movement. In an environment of declining public and private resources (including the imminent closure of a number of the largest trusts and foundations), charities, community and voluntary groups are under severe pressure with resources and meeting the needs of the clients which they serve.”

 Roche added:

“This year’s annual report conveys that 2013 has been our best year to date in supporting community groups and organisations across Ireland and we hope to continue to inspire the generosity of donors with a proven model of philanthropy that works, based on trust, effectiveness and real impact into the next 100 years.”

Brian Toller, Chair of The Community Foundation of Ottawa, who travelled from Canada to contribute to the Irish celebrations as part of the world-wide centenary, addressed the audience of community groups and grantees of The Community Foundation for Ireland, private and corporate donors, professional advisers and other stakeholders. He spoke about  the positive impact of community foundations around the world in addressing causes and issues in society over the past 100 years. Mr Toller observed:

“One of the reasons we are having this event is to mark the formation 100 years ago of the world’s first community foundation, established by lawyer and banker Frederick H. Goff in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914. His vision was to pool the charitable resources of the community into a single and permanent endowment for the benefit of all. If Mr Goff were alive today, I am sure he would be astonished to learn that there are now almost 1800 community foundations in more than 50 countries across the world, managing in excess of €40 billion in assets. All share the same basic attributes of community foundations everywhere, namely prudent financial stewardship of endowed assets; knowledgeable and effective grant-making to local charities using the income from those assets; and a capability and desire to improve the lives of thousands of people by connecting donors who care with causes that matter.”

Picture by Jason Clarks Photography: Louis FitzGerald, Chairman of the Board, The Community Foundation for Ireland, President Michael D. Higgins, Tina Roche CEO of the Community Foundation for Ireland and Brian Toller, Chair of The Community Foundation of Ottawa.