90% of Irish people have donated to charity in the past year

The Charities Regulator has today published its Irish Public Survey into society’s attitudes and engagement with registered charities in Ireland. A total of 2,001 people responded to the survey carried out by Amárach on behalf of the Regulator.

Understanding the attitude of the public to the charity sector is fundamental to the survival and success of the sector in terms of strengthening public trust and confidence. Perhaps more than most other sectors the public has a view on charities. They believe that they know and understand them.

“The Charities Regulator carried out this research as a means of gauging how people interact with charities and what charity means to us as a society in Ireland today,” said Helen Martin, Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator. “There is a lot in this research that we as a regulator will learn from and our hope is that charities and the public find it equally useful as we all work towards a vibrant, trusted charity sector that is valued for the public benefit it provides.”

Some key findings of the survey are:

How much people donate and who they donate to

40% of people who responded to the survey said that they donated more than €100 to charities in the past year with the most popular ways of donation being:

• Buying a raffle/lottery ticket
• Sponsoring someone
• Donating with a debit/credit card through a charity’s website.

88% of respondents said they had not changed the type of charity they support as a result of COVID-19.

The breakdown of charitable causes people donated to is as follows:

Homeless or refuge services


Medical or health related


Local community organisations


Children or youth


Animal rescue or welfare


Physical or intellectual disabilities


Overseas aid or disaster relief


School, colleges or other education


Senior citizens


Religious organisations


Environment and conservation


Arts, culture or heritage


“40% of people surveyed said they donated €100 or more over the past year, which is a significant amount of money, and of those donating 52% are donating to charity at least every two months. These findings demonstrate the high level of public support for charities in Ireland today. What’s particularly heartening to see is that people are becoming more aware of the importance of regulation and of checking out a charity before they make a donation,” said Helen Martin. “86% of respondents to the survey recognised the role of charities as an important one and the majority of respondents (72%) recognised that there
is a difference between a registered charity and a charitable cause, the difference being that only registered charities are regulated. However, while 57% of those we surveyed said they check if a charity is registered before donating, we would like this figure to be higher. Any member of the public wishing to donate their time, money or any items to charity should check that the charity is listed on the Register of Charities which is available to view at www.charitiesregulator.ie

The top five reasons for selecting a charity to support are:

I like to help people who are worse off than I am


I’m interested in what they do because it is important


I feel I should give something to worthy causes


I enjoy giving and feeling that I am making a difference


I want to support people in an emergency /disaster


To give back to a charity which has directly helped me/friend/family member

23% - rising to 48% among those who had been a service user/recipient.

Trust and Confidence in the charity sector

91% of respondents reported a reasonable level of trust and confidence in the charity sector with 36% rating their level of trust highly. 66% said their trust and confidence in the sector had increased or stayed the same over the past two years.

“The level of trust and confidence in the charity sector is an important indicator of the overall health of the sector. Of those respondents to the survey who said that they felt their level of trust had decreased over the past two years, the majority, 65%, cited lack of openness and transparency about how donations are used as the reason for their concern. There is a simple solution to this and the power to reassure the public and potential donors lies with charities themselves. The Charities Regulator encourages all registered charities to publish their full accounts and provide information about their activities and what they have achieved on their websites – the more transparent a charity is, the more trust it will instil in the public,” said Helen Martin. “Registered charities are not required to submit their accounts to the Charities Regulator at present therefore a charity’s accounts will only appear on the Register of Charities if they are already filed with the Companies Registration Office. However, new amendments which have been proposed to the Charities Act 2009 if enacted will pave the way for a requirement on all registered charities to submit accounts to the Charities Regulator, which in turn will mean that those accounts can be made available to the public through the Register of Charities. This will mean greater transparency for the public in relation to the finances of registered charities and ultimately further enhance public trust and confidence in the sector.”

You can read the Public Survey Report here