‘Significant Challenges’ For Non-Profit Sector

21 May 2020 | 02.18 pm

‘Significant Challenges’ For Non-Profit Sector

Analysis from Benfacts

21 May 2020 | 02.18 pm

A ‘pre-Covid’ report from Benefacts shows that the non-profit sector has never been more sizeable or more central to Irish society, according to the social enterprise registry and database.

The more than 32,000 non-profits in Ireland reported an aggregate turnover of €14.2 billion in 2019, up by 9.5% from €13 billion in 2018, but Benefacts says that in the post-Covid environment they will face “significant challenges and major questions around the continued delivery of services, fundraising, employment and even, in some cases, sustainability”.

The key findings in the report are:

  • There are at least 32,840 nonprofits in Ireland – including charities, trusts, non-governmental organisations, professional bodies, sports and cultural organisations
  • Government funding to the sector – which includes fees for the provision of services, as well as grants – grew by 13% from €5.3 billion to €5.9 billion year-on-year
  • Reported fundraising and donations across the sector increased by 6% from €900m to €955m
  • Total employment in the sector rose to 165,100
  • Aggregate turnover grew by 9.5% from €13 billion to €14.2 billion year-on-year, mainly within a handful of larger organisations
  • A sector of extremes – 150 big organisations (turnover in excess of €12 million), 10,000 small and 20,000 local clubs or societies
  • Nonprofit startups outnumbered wind-ups nearly 2:1, with 540 new nonprofit startups
  • More than 86,500 people from all walks of life serve as board members.

Benefacts managing director Patricia Quinn (pictured) commented: “Like the rest of society, the nonprofit sector has been thrown into chaos by the coronavirus pandemic. Health and social care providers in residential settings are on the front-lines, but the impacts are not limited to them. 

“Thousands of nonprofits involved in homelessness relief, sheltered and social housing, services for children, families and older people are deeply concerned about their capacity to deliver for vulnerable communities.

“The economic impact is potentially catastrophic, with sector leaders reporting a dramatic fall-off in donations and for some — for example in the performing arts — a total collapse in their revenues.

”The €14.2 billion social economy makes an incalculable contribution to our wellbeing, which goes far beyond what can be measured by the numbers — 165,000 in employment, nearly €6 billion in public funding and a quarter of the adult population involved as volunteers. Yet the numbers matter: what gets measured gets managed.”

Quinn said that while the nonprofit sector was facing unprecedented challenges, it had a track record of resilience. The recent emergency €40m funding package provided by government would buy some much-needed breathing space, and was an important signal that the sector is valued.

“The government’s Covid-19 Stability Fund funding package is welcome and will give some nonprofits time to review, regroup and renew their operations. Hard decisions may need to be taken, but these are resilient organisations, many of which have been around for decades and have weathered many storms. 

“They are evidence of a mindful society. Our political leaders would do well to tap into their wisdom as they plot the recovery of our economy.”

Comments are closed.