Charities, NGOs, Active Citizenship and the Government

19/09/2012 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

“Charities” (or as we like to call them: “Civil Society Organisations”) have been in the news lately.

Here in Ireland, the debate has focused on the need for greater Charity Regulation.

What these articles have in common is that they call on the Government to urgently implement a law that should already be in effect: the Charities Act 2009.

Internationally, there was also some news:

  • The European Commission adopted a Communication, highlighting the important role that “civil society” plays in democratic processes and sustainable development.
    Crucially, the Commission highlights the role of NGO networks as key actors, and it calls on Governments to provide the necessary “enabling environment” – legislation, regulation and funding.
  • The Commission’s Communication was based on an extensive consultation about the role of Civil Society in Development. (What we said to the Commission is contained in this document by CONCORD)
  • Next month, the OECD will publish its “12 Lessons Learned” from existing ways in which its member organisations are working with civil society.
    (the Lessons Learned are, inter alia, based on the Irish Aid Civil Society Policy, which contains a very strong articulation of the role of NGOs and civil society organisations in global Development)

To try and clarify matters, we published a briefing sheet on How to Recognise an Effective NGO.

(see also these links for more background reading)

We also published the results of our survey of Dóchas member organisations, which showed that, over the last five years, the Development NGO sector in Ireland has become more focused and has prioritised issues of internal governance, accountability and processes/procedures in a significant manner.

For more background information, have a look at these resources about NGOs, Charities and Civil Society.



  • There are at least 11,700 “charities” (or not-for-profit organisations) in Ireland.
  • Revenue has registered 7,800 charities for tax purposes – all these charities are subject to Revenue audit and scrutiny. (The remaining 3,900 are unincorporated charities.)
  • Of the registered charities, less than 1,000 have full-time staff, and just over 280 charities have turnover in excess of €1 million annually.
  • Those 7,800 charities spent some €17 million each year on audit fees alone.
  • Most bigger charities are incorporated as Companies Limited by Guarantee – in other words, they are regulated by Company Law, and are regulated in exactly the same way as any other limited company in Ireland.
  • Dóchas has 49 members at present – Although our members are among the most well-known charities in Ireland, the “charity sector” in Ireland is a lot bigger than only the overseas Development NGOs.

Entry filed under: NGOs. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

How to recognise an effective NGO A new partnership?

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