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Irish react to homeless crisis with leading levels of generosity


Homelessness is the number one cause donated to by the Irish, according to the first comprehensive study of giving trends in the country.

The study from the Charities Aid Foundation, carried out in partnership with Philanthropy Ireland, is released just weeks after an Irish election campaign in which housing shortages and homelessness were key issues for voters.

The Irish are consistently among the world’s most generous countries and this study found that people in Ireland are also more likely that elsewhere to help the homeless with more than one in three (35%) listing it as the cause to which they had recently donated.

Charities helping children and young people were the second most popular cause at 30%, followed by hospitals and hospices at 28%.

The survey also found higher than average levels of trust in charities among the public.

Findings include:

• Nine out of ten (90%) people in Ireland participated in at least one charitable or social action in the last year and more than seven in ten (72%) did so in the last four weeks.
• Three fifths of people donated money to charity within the last year (62%) and just under two fifths sponsored someone for charity (38%).
• The median amount of money donated in Ireland within the last four weeks was €30. The most common method of donating was cash (68% of donors).
• Nearly a quarter of people in Ireland volunteered in the last year (23%), with the level of volunteering higher amongst women (27% vs. 19% men).
• People were most likely to be asked for donations in person, whether on the street (49%), on the doorstep (24%) or through family and friends (29%).
• More than half (54%) of people in Ireland either ‘strongly’ or ‘tend to’ agree that most charities are trustworthy.
Ireland ranked 5th in the recently released 10th edition of the CAF World Giving Index, which examined generosity across the globe over the past decade. That study found that 62% of Irish people had helped a stranger in the past month, 69% had donated money to charity in the past year and 38% had volunteered their time. 

Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at CAF, said:

“Our aim at the Charities Aid Foundation is to grow giving in all its forms and this research demonstrates that Ireland starts from an enviable position. The willingness of so many Irish people to help the homeless – the most vulnerable in our communities – speaks to a generosity of spirit that sets Ireland apart.  We hope this report helps colleagues increase not only the amounts given, but also levels of volunteering and social engagement across the country.”

Éilis Murray, CEO of Philanthropy Ireland said:

“We welcome this report, which provides valuable insights into giving patterns in Ireland.  While it paints a picture of a generous country, it also points to opportunities for us to do more. This research provides a platform for conversations on how we can support and develop giving in Ireland. Can we shift the balance from reactive giving to planned giving to create greater impact? I firmly believe we can.”


The Ireland Giving 2020 report is one of an international series of reports produced by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), a world-leading organisation working at the forefront of philanthropy and civil society. CAF has been tracking giving in the UK for several decades and in recent years began conducting similar research in countries across its global network. With a clear goal of assisting charities, governments and wider society to better understand charitable giving, we are delighted to now launch our first CAF Ireland Giving report. The series also includes reports covering Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, India, Russia, South Africa, the United States and the UK, as well as separate reports for Scotland and Wales.

This report is based on data collected by YouGov on behalf of CAF. In Ireland, 1,057 interviews were completed online between 6 September and 16 September 2019. The survey was conducted using YouGov’s panel partner Toluna. 

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