The Wheel Welcomes New Benefacts Data on Nonprofit Sector

The Wheel welcomes new data published by Benefacts which highlights the extent and immense contribution of Ireland’s nonprofit sector.

Amongst its many findings, Benefacts found that Irish nonprofits currently employ 163,000 people, and that pay in the sector falls significantly below the norm for the rest of the economy.

Commenting on the launch of the data, Ivan Cooper, Director of Public Policy at The Wheel said: “The data illuminates a hidden part of our economy that is often overlooked. Benefacts have collated valuable information on the immense contribution nonprofit organisations make to Irish society and, importantly, our economy. The new data will be of great value to charities, regulators, funders and the public.”

The Wheel also called on the Charities Regulator and Department of Rural and Community Development to expedite the introduction of statutory financial reporting standards for charities:

“Charities are currently required to submit finical information to a variety of regulators and funders, including the Charities Regulator, Companies Registration Office, Revenue and their statutory and private funders. However, while many charities are applying accounting standards like SORP voluntarily, there is still no mandatory standard for financial reporting. We urge the Charities Regulator and Department of Rural and Community Development to work together to expedite the legislation needed to implement a financial reporting standard for charities.

“In the meantime, all charities should comply with the Charities Regulator’s new Governance Code which recommends that all charities produce unabridged (full) financial accounts and that they make financial information publicly available. The Code will become mandatory in 2021, but we need to place financial reporting standards on a statutory footing to provide clarity and optimal transparency”, said Mr Cooper.

The report was launched today 17 April, by Sean Canney, Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development and it draws on all of the data available from the public filings of nearly 30,000 nonprofits, as at the end of Q1 2019.

Key findings:

  • State Funding at €5.9bn in 2017
  • Nonprofits attract 8.4% of all Government expenditure
  • State funding is not evenly distributed…71% of expenditure is concentrated in 1% of all reporting nonprofits
  • 163,000 people employed
  • 81,500 Directors/Charity trustees
  • New data includes 9,300 local nonprofits from the 29 Public Participation Networks nationwide
  • Significant increase in the filing of abridged accounts
  • Fewer than 300 nonprofits have a turnover greater than €5m, with more than 3,000 reporting a turnover of €50,000 or less.
  • State funding is not evenly distributed. €4.2bn, or more than 70% of public money committed to the Third Sector is directed at only 60 major charities – 22 higher education bodies, and 38 health or social care services on behalf of the State.
  • Most of the remaining €1.7bn goes to about 1500 nonprofits – about half of which are registered charities – that derive more than 50% of their funding from the State. About half of these smaller nonprofits were established between 2000 and 2010, often as special purpose vehicles to provide job creation, local development, social supports and other arms’ length services on behalf of the State. The rest were set up independently of Government to provide services mostly in health and social services, local development, housing and advocacy.
  • The average size of a nonprofit board is 6 directors/charity trustees – mostly older men. Nearly a quarter have served on the same board for nine years or more. These trends are most pronounced in the boards of sports bodies (where the male:female balance is 80:20, and one-third of directors/trustees have served for more than nine years), and in social enterprise and social housing.
  • The Report debunks the impression that nonprofit employees are highly paid. Outside of the 65 higher education, health and social care charities where staff are remunerated as though they were public servants, Third Sector pay norms fall way below the average in the rest of the economy, with fewer than 1% of jobs attracting higher pay (>€70,000 per annum).
  • More than 80,000 people served as Directors and/or Trustees in Irish nonprofits during 2018. This figure does not include the many thousands of people who serve on the Boards of Management committees of clubs and societies.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Sean Canney TD said “I would like to acknowledge the very important work undertaken by Benefacts, as reflected in this third annual analysis of Ireland’s not for profit sector. The inclusion of data from the Public Participation Networks is particularly welcome, given the ongoing growth in PPN membership supported by my Department and the local authorities.”

For more information see