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 

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 Masterson
Chief Executive
Charities Institute Ireland

To read the research click here.