Give a Little, Help a Lot

Philanthropy Ireland launch the 1% Difference Campaign

You’ve probably heard of the One Percent Difference campaign by now but may be confused as to what it’s all about. NewsFour spoke to Seamus Mulconry, executive director of Philanthropy Ireland, to find out just what the campaign is and how you can make a difference.

Philantropy Ireland (PI) is a representative association for trusts and foundations in Ireland and a member of the Forum of Philanthropy and Fundraising, established in 2011 between government and philanthropists to create a more sustainable form of philanthropy. “One of the recommendations of the forum was that we would set up a national giving campaign, The One Percent Difference, all about getting people to give one percent of their time or income to a cause they care about, whether that’s a charity or a sporting or arts organisation,” Mulconry says.

According to PI’s research, Irish people give roughly €460 million a year to charity, not including sports or the arts. What PI hope to change, however, is the ad hoc fashion in which we contribute to causes. Most Irish people will happily give money if a bucket is shook in their face whereas in other countries people tend to give in a more sustained manner, setting up a direct debit and contributing to a specific charity over a number of years.

PI’s research shows that the average Irish person contributes €130 a year to good causes but there is a large discrepancy between genders. While Irish women give €160 annually, their male counterparts give €100. “If we could get men to give as much as women it would make an enormous difference,” says Mulconry, who puts the imbalance down to women generally playing a more active role in the community.

In New Zealand, in the wake of the 2011 ChristChurch earthquake, a similar campaign was set up. “It was particularly successful,” says Mulconry, “because people could see the need on their doorstep and had neighbours who were desperately in need of help.” Mulconry claims that seeing the needs of a cause first-hand changes your attitude towards giving and this is why people who volunteer their time with a cause are more likely to contribute financially also. “One in five Irish people volunteer on a regular basis and if we could make it two out of five we could achieve so much more,” he says.

In the current economic climate, for some, giving as little as one percent of their income may seem impossible. Mulconry is keen to highlight how much money we waste, often without realising it. “Every year the average Irish household dumps between €700 and €1000 worth of out-of-date food,” he points out, “with 1.2 million households in the country, that’s in excess of €1 billion wasted.”

At time of writing, over 500 organisations have registered with the campaign. “The benefit of charities signing up is that it makes it easier to fundraise and locate volunteers, both of which are expensive activities,” Mulconry says, “charities have to spend a reasonable amount of money every year sourcing funds so we hope this will make it much easier for them.”

If you visit you can browse the registered organisations and decide who you’d like to donate a small fraction of your time or money to, both of which can be worked out through the site’s calculator.

Mulconry is keen to point out the choice is entirely up to you. “We’re not telling people who to give to, or how much. As long as they’re giving, that’s all we’re looking for.”

By Eric Hillis