Sporting Bodies can use Philanthropy to ‘Change the Game’. What we learnt at the Federation of Irish Sport Conference 2017.

(07 Jun 2017)

Above: Selected delegates, including Minister of State for Sports and Tourism, Patrick O'Donovan and Federation of Irish Sport CEO, James Galvin.

2into3 are delighted to have played an integral part of an afternoon of overwhelmingly positive momentum towards the diversification of Irish sporting income at the Federation of Irish Sport Conference 2017. This year’s conference, themed ‘Invest in Irish Sport, Change the Game’ raised important questions about where our sporting NGBs are in fundraising. The need to diversify funding and the first steps can that be taken to turn discussion into reality was the key takeaway from the conference. The afternoon saw thought-provoking discussion from right across the Irish sporting landscape, from Judo to Gymnastics, Olympic Handball to Cricket.

The event, MC’d by CEO of Diaspora Matters and 2into3 Associate Kingsley Aikins, saw a host of sectoral thought leaders share opinions and experiences around fundraising.

Minister of State for Sports and Tourism, Patrick O’Donovans opening address praised the willingness of all parties to be open when tackling challenges faced, while calling on all sporting organisations to invest in greater transparency and accountability. Federation CEO, James Galvin spoke to Ireland still playing catch up with the UK Sports Council which was formed in 1970, and reiterated the need for NGBs to diversify their funding models.

2into3 Director, Dennis O’Connor presented a funding model for sport in Ireland, research methodology, and a breakdown of funding model of all NGBs. An emphasis was put on the comparison between the funding models of ‘the big three’ NGBs and the other smaller organisations. The role of the state was also mentioned and our comparatively low per capita philanthropy contribution of €183 compared to our neighbours in the UK. The main conclusion was that most funding is currently coming from earned income and sponsorship, with James Wynne, Client Director of ONSIDE Sponsorship stating that sponsorship is worth €120m to sport in Ireland today.  Philanthropy comparatively, according to Dennis O’Connor of 2into3 is worth potentially €100m, currently worth €17m and is a largely untapped resource for most Irish Sporting NGBs.

The Irish Sailing Foundation has pioneered the diversification of income approach and Executive Director Jack Gleeson, speaking on the afternoon attributed the success of the Foundation down to five elements:

  • The support received from the Irish Sailing Association
  • High performance coaching team
  • The Benefactors
  • Significant Fundraising Strategy Development conducted by 2into3
  • Support from Sport Ireland

Keynote speaker Sara Liebscher, Senior Director of Athletics Advancement at the University of Notre Dame detailed the philanthropic journey, system and stressed the importance of relationships in the pursuit of philanthropy. Liebscher believes Irish organisations by nature are predisposed to excel in this form of relationship based fundraising. However, more tangible advice in the pursuit strong philanthropic performance was also shared:

  • Build a ‘gold star’ fundraising structure within your organisation
  • Become more data driven improve your ability to identify donors
  • Establish and leverage an advisory council

Liebschers’ final advice of “fundraise with an ambition, a process and a keen sense of why you are asking and why donors will give” will hopefully dawn a new era and new attitudes towards philanthropy for sport in Ireland.


About The Federation of Irish Sport

The Federation of Irish Sport is the representative organisation for the National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) in Ireland. The role of the Federation is to speak on behalf of our members and represent their views to the public, while also providing them with a range of services. They communicate their views regarding the benefits of sport in areas such as personal health/wellbeing, the economy and society.

About 2into3

2into3 transforms not-for-profits through consulting, recruitment and research. Our team builds capacity through fundraising strategy development, organisational strategy development, talent acquisition, change management and evidence-informed decision-making.

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