Unsung Heroes

Unsung Heroes

The Unsung Heroes campaign highlights some of the best examples of our Donor Advised Funds

The Farmleigh Fund

The Farmleigh Fund, an anonymous family fund, was established in 2016 as a term fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland. As the Farmleigh Fund is a term fund they will spend down the total amount they have allocated to the fund over the next 10 years. The fund has committed to providing €350,000 per annum in grants to the community and voluntary sector in Ireland.

The Farmleigh Fund was set up when the family received a windfall gain after the sale of shares. The objective of the fund is to make a sustainable improvement in people’s lives in Ireland, the fund is committed to doing this through providing funding to projects and organisations that seek to address the root cause of issues that negatively affect society. The family fund has a particular interest in supporting advocacy and progressive change in public policy and legislation.

Some such areas where the fund has invested in change is their funding to the Children's Rights Alliance so that they can continue to produce their Annual Report Card which tracks policy delivery for children and young people in Ireland. Similarly, the fund has supported the work of the Irish Penal Reform Trust to examine human rights conditions of prisoners in Ireland.

This fund is a prime example of how philanthropy, when utilised at its best, can support strategic initiatives in targeted areas to help in addressing selected societal challenges. The spend down nature of the term fund allows the donors to support a relatively small number of targeted initiatives and to provide them with multi-annual funding to really delve into systemic issues and create lasting change. Setting up a fund is a unique and personal experience for each of our donors whether they are individuals or families. No two funds are the same; while we often convene donors to strengthen the power of their giving each fund is a reflection of that donor’s values and their commitment to providing tangible change.


The Siol Fund

The Siol fund is the second in our Unsung Heroes Campaign that showcases the model and impact of some of our anonymous Donor Advised Funds. The Siol fund was set up as a flow-through Donor Advised Fund in 2015 by an entrepreneur who wanted to give back to his hometown specifically and also support the wider community. The fund has given out almost half a million in grants since it began and continues to fund projects that are aimed at regenerating the local community and to wider social issues such as health and education.

The Siol Fund has also provided funding internationally to organisations that support children with disabilities in Moldova and projects in Uganda. These grants are facilitated through The Community Foundation for Ireland that provides governance checks and peace of mind through our Donor Advised Funds.

In identifying particular areas to support and where the most impact can be achieved The Community Foundation for Ireland performed a scoping study on behalf of the Siol Fund that mapped out the donor’s hometown and highlighted organisations and projects that were actively tackling local issues and in need of financial support to reach more members of the community. By conducting this type of study before any grants were made the donor received a detailed overview of where the problems were, who was working in the area and how their funds can create tangible change.

The generosity of the Siol Fund highlights how entrepreneurs engage in philanthropy the same way they engage in business, showing a high level of commitment to tackling problems in a way that is strategic and ensures maximum impact. By working with The Community Foundation for Ireland the Siol Fund has availed of high level expertise in grant-making and governance that ensures the entire community gets a return on their investment.

MPB Fund

The MPB Fund was established in 2013 as a long-term family fund. The mother of this family has been a long-standing supporter of philanthropy and wanted to pass down this value to her three children. The three adult siblings manage all decision making of the fund and decide on what social issues and causes to support. To date, the fund has given grants of over €650,000 and will continue to provide significant funding in the future.

“So how did we guide our children into philanthropy? Actually, it is very easy because young people are naturally inclined to be kind, non-judgemental and generous. When they become adults, to keep the momentum going we decided that we would like them to manage their own giving fund. Here was their chance to have an impact on the issues that were pulling at their heartstring. From regular reminders to lists of relevant causes to choose from, to organising meetings, down to practically holding their hands, throughout the whole process The Community Foundation for Ireland has been so supportive. As an added bonus the fund has given my children a focus outside their busy working lives and an opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, thereby strengthening their closeness as siblings. “ Quote from Fund Holder

As part of the grant making process the Grants and Donor Services team within The Community Foundation for Ireland provide options for grant making opportunities on particular issues that interest the fund. Over the years the MPB Fund has supported a number of social causes, more recently including significant support to homelessness, addressing the refugee crisis and preventing domestic violence. The Fund is targeted and strategic in its grant making and has often provided multi-annual grants to projects that needed longer-term funding to achieve their objective.

Within The Community Foundation for Ireland we have seen the need from the charity sector to avail of larger, multi-annual funding, especially for advocacy and social policy work. Funds such as the MPB Fund ensure that not only are frontline services able to deal with the issues of the day but that organisations who take a more long-term, strategic approach to social change are equipped with the funding needed to ensure this essential work can be carried through to the end.  

Some examples of grant making from the MPB Fund include Safe Ireland’s work on changing the culture on domestic violence in Ireland, the Irish Refugee Council’s project to increase access to educational opportunities for people living in direct provision in Ireland and Simon Communities work on providing counseling and mental health services to people who experience homelessness to ensure that they can find and keep appropriate accommodation.


The Green Leaf Fund

The Green Leaf Fund was started as a flow-through Donor Advised Fund in October 2015. On foot of a windfall gain from the sale of a company the donor wanted to give back to their community and in a low-key, private way. The Green Leaf Fund, similar to the majority of funds at The Community Foundation for Ireland is anonymous, by setting up a Donor Advised Fund the donor ensures their privacy remains intact, while also providing grants in certain areas and receiving feedback on the progression and impacts of the projects they have supported.

The Green Leaf Fund follows a welcome trend we have seen over the last number of years in The Community Foundation for Ireland of more female philanthropists setting up funds and leading the way on strategic giving. Ireland has a culture of male-led philanthropy and so, in addition, it is great to see more female-led funds being established within The Community Foundation for Ireland.

To date the Green Leaf Fund has given out €200,000 in grants to charitable organisations in Ireland. The fund has a particular focus on homelessness and the environment and has provided grants to fund innovative pilot programmes that allow non-profit organisations to develop creative solutions to systemic issues. Two such organisations the Green Leaf Fund has been a strong supporter of are GIY and Food Cloud; these organisations are working toward creating more sustainable communities at both a local and national level. The fund has provided significant grants that have allowed both organisations to roll out national programmes to test new solutions to issues such as food waste and social inclusion.

The Green Leaf Fund plans to make a similar level of grants throughout the next few years and is working with The Community Foundation for Ireland to change the social lens on issues that are core to the donor’s beliefs and will have a positive impact on the communities they support.

Beachaire Fund

The Beachaire Fund is a relatively new fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland that was set up in 2016 by a professional woman who wanted to take a more structured approach to giving. Often when donors decide to work with The Community Foundation for Ireland it is because they have given in an ad hoc way in the past and are looking to change their approach from charitable giving to strategic giving, that is giving that is focused on impact and has a social cause lens.

The Beachaire fund focuses on providing grants to organisations with an educational focus. International research has found that female led funds often focus on the areas of education and children and young people with a long term focus to challenge disadvantage. While The Community Foundation for Ireland has not seen enough female led funds to classify a trend in female funds, the Beachaire Fund is a fantastic example of how a fund wants to address educational disadvantage through supporting programmes that look at STEM, numeracy and literacy initiatives and early childhood education. Such programmes include a grant to Early Learning Initiative to support their work in the Dockland and a grant to Suas Educational Development to provide targeted support to children in DEIS schools who are struggling with reading and maths.

While the Beachaire Fund was set up and is led by a professional female, she has also involved two generations in the grant and decision making process. This is a common thread we have seen within our funds at The Community Foundation for Ireland. Often donors will encourage their children to become involved in their philanthropy to encourage a legacy of giving. Similarly different family members may come together under the same family fund to avail of joined up thinking and create more significant impact in a social area they have decided to focus on. Donor Advised Funds are the fastest growing vehicle of giving on a global scale because of their flexibility and governance structure that allows donors peace of mind on the grants they make while also seeing the impact and knowing they are receiving professional community knowledge that enhances their philanthropic mission.


Penguin Fund

During 2011, a donor, who has been extremely successful in his working life and had previously been giving to charities for some time in an ad-hoc manner, become aware of The Community Foundation for Ireland in his capacity as a professional adviser and decided to set up a Donor Advised Fund. Wishing to house his grantmaking in a structured and an anonymous way, he particularly liked the fact that The Community Foundation for Ireland handled the administrative side, as well as the formalised process of staged payments and outcome reports expected from the grantees.

The Community Foundation for Ireland was able to act as a mediator for the Penguin Fund and delivered accountability and measurement of the effectiveness of his grant making as standard. Having already put a lot of thought into his philanthropy, he identified that he wished to support a ‘Chess for All’ project as he had been a chess enthusiast as a child and could identify the benefits that playing chess had brought to him. It was initially a three-year project. The first ‘Chess for All’ national finals took place in Dublin in 2012 with 50 schools taking part in the finals, involving an estimated 180 children and have grown since then. The Community Foundation for Ireland was able to work closely with all stakeholders in terms of expectations, obligations, reporting requirements and looking at the long-term sustainability beyond funding.

“When I opened the fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland I had wanted to give something back. As a child, I remembered how much I enjoyed playing chess and the benefits it had for me socially and educationally. People gave their time voluntarily to bring us back and forth to play in competitions and this often came back to me as the years went by. I funded Chess for All from my Donor Advised Fund at The Community Foundation for Ireland to the value of €120,000. This will ensure hundreds, if not thousands of children are impacted by the positive influence of chess in their lives, just like me”. Penguin Fund Holder

Since the initial grantmaking to Chess for All the Penguin Fund has continued to be strategic in its grant making and has provided supporter to a number of other organisations including Children’s Rights Alliance and Mental Health Reform.