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Research

Charities Institute Ireland, along with our sector partners, carry out research in the charity sector on the issues and topics which matter most to our members. View our recent research below. 

Charities Institute Ireland, along with our sector partners, carry out research in the charity sector on the issues and topics which matter most to our members. View our recent research below. 

How different demographics engaged with charities during the COVID-19 pandemic

New research commissioned by Charities Institute Ireland reveals interesting trends in how the public has reacted to the Covid pandemic with younger people leading the way in responding to requests for support from charities hit by the Covid crisis.

Charities Institute Ireland and Amárach’s survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adults revealed:

  • Younger people (18-24), among all age groups, are leading the way in responding to requests for support from charities hit by the Covid crisis;
  • A major shift to online donations;
  • Confidence in online giving;
  • A strong preference for supporting charities focussed on providing services in Ireland rather than overseas.


Liz Hughes CEO Charities Institute Ireland, “The pandemic has caused a lot of change in our society.  This survey provides significant evidence that those in the 18-24 cohort have responded most to the pressures on charities.  This trend came through in a number of questions”:

  • 55% of 18-24-year olds have donated more than normal at this time, compared to an average for all age groups of 38%.  Almost 2 in 10 (18%) of 18-24s have given “significantly” more;
  • Only 15% of 18-24-year olds have not engaged with a charity in recent months, compared to almost double that (28%) for all groups;
  • This age group are the greatest users of social media channels (63%) to donate, almost twice as much as other age groups;
  • Completing an activity or challenge has been a big focus for 18-24-year olds with more than a third - 37% taking part. This compares to just 11% for all groups

“Perhaps the lockdown and the curtailment of our normal social lives has given this cohort a fresh perspective on charities and the work we do. 7 out of 10 18-24 year olds rated the work charities do as important or very important -more than any other age cohort.”

Many charities have responded to a collapse in traditional fundraising (events, face to face) by seeking donations online or by mobile phone.  The research shows that almost 2 thirds of respondents (62%) had little (24%) or no (38%) concern about donating via these channels. 

This is encouraging because it is impossible to envisage a future without a significant level of fundraising being carried out online or remotely.”

The survey also showed a strong preference across all ages for supporting charities focussed on providing services in Ireland (79%) with 20% donating to both Irish and overseas focussed charities. 

“This is an understandable result based on the focus there has been on the huge domestic impact, socially and economically, of the pandemic. But we should be conscious that the needs of others, especially in severely disadvantaged countries in the third world should not be forgotten.”

Recruitment & Retention Research

In late 2019 and early 2020 Amárach research carried out, on behalf of Charities Institute Ireland, research into employment trends in the charity sector. 

  • In November 2019, a qualitative research programme consisting of 12 one to one interviews was undertaken. The interviewees had all worked in the charity sector at a recent stage in their career. Amárach particularly wanted to focus on career insights they gained from working in the sector and how it impacted on them personally and professionally.  
  • For the second part of the research they undertook a quantitative survey of charity sector CEOs, focusing on the challenges they face in the area of recruitment and retention in a full-employment economy. 

A number of findings emerged from this survey, (full findings here). They are: 

  1. There is comprehensive agreement that the public has unrealistic expectations of what Charity sector workers should be paid. 
  2. Remuneration is the key driver for staff deciding to leave the sector, followed by opportunities for career progression and burnout from the role.  
  3. Limited resources and remuneration are viewed as the main barriers to overcome for people moving into the Charity sector. 
  4. Staff with outside sector experience bring commercial knowledge and perspective, as well as innovation and new thinking. 
  5. Creating an environment where staff are supported: Ensuring that staff believe there is a  career path open to them within the organisation, that mentoring is available to help develop their potential and that their salaries will reflect their capabilities and experience.   

Find a full report on quantitative research here and qualitative here. Read the thoughts of our CEO, Liz Hughes, on the findings here.


How Different Generations Will Sustain the Charity Sector into the Future

Continuing on from the work done in the Charities 2037 research Charities Institute Ireland commissioned Amárach Research to undertake this piece in May 2019. The research aimed to identify differing generational perceptions (if any) towards Irish charities. There were both quantitative and qualitative elements to the research. This included a nationally representative survey of 1,000 adults as well as focus groups with those who volunteer or have done so in the past with charities.

The research shows a generally positive view of charities’ role in Irish society. While there was some divergence overall between over 45s and under 45s both groups show a willingness to engage with charities. It also offers insights into why people volunteer and why they stop. Additionally, it points to what can be done to encourage younger people to engage, and how current volunteers can be better retained.

The main takeaways from the research were:

  • There was little difference in opinion on the importance of charities in Irish society, with strong support overall.
  • Over 45s are more likely to volunteer, although under 45s are more likely to say they plan to in the future.
  • Previous parental engagement is an important influence on volunteers.
  • Employers play a key role in prompting volunteering.
  • The biggest factors for those giving up volunteering were time commitment and feeling undervalued.

A more comprehensive view of the research can be found here.

Charity Insights & Awareness

In May 2018 we commissioned Amárach to undertake research on public and corporate attitudes to Governance in the Charity Sector. This consisted of an online public survey and a series of focus groups.The purpose of the research was to provide Cii members with insights and perspectives from these important donor groups. The top line results are as follows:The general public believe:

  • The three elements of the Triple Lock are important and should be displayed by charities. Interestingly, this was perceived to be most important by those who already donate.
  • Good governance is an important factor in donating behaviours, further highlighted by the fact that the Triple Lock, tangible evidence of good governance would positively influence behaviour.
  • There is still a relatively low level of understanding of the Trustees role.

From the Corporate perspective:

  • Corporates are already aware of the core elements of good governance and transparent reporting and are concerned (and checking) that any partnerships, donations or volunteering opportunities are with charitable organisations that are displaying these standards.
  • Corporates see community and charitable impact as increasingly important activities, but they are risk averse and they expect evidence of transparent impact reports.

Cii members who would like a full copy of the research please email

Mark@charitiesinstituteireland.ie 

Charities 2037


There is overwhelming desire for change in the charity sector among staff, volunteers, funders, the general public and beneficiaries. Before embarking on a journey of change, it is critical to know where you are starting from.

With the generous support and funding from The Ireland Funds, Charities Institute Ireland together with Amárach Research designed Charities 2037, a program of research with the aim of providing stakeholders with an opportunity to consider how the charity sector should evolve over the next two decades.

Amárach Research interviewed 25 key personnel in the area of charity leadership. They included experts on corporate and charity governance; the patrons of some of the largest charities in the country; chairs of charitable organisations; charity CEOs and senior executives; academics; leaders from the private sector; philanthropic organisations; public servants; media commentators, government policy advisors and public representatives. They provided insight, vision and passion. We are grateful to them for the time, commitment and investment in this project.

We are also grateful to all those who participated in the quantitative surveys – the public, the staff and volunteers. Their insights were invaluable to the research programme.

And finally, thanks to the authors of this report Michael McLoughlin and Claire O’Rourke from Amárach Research.

Lucy MastersonChief ExecutiveCharities Institute Ireland

To read the research click here.

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