Ministers Ring and Canney launch €40 million COVID-19 support package for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises

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Friday, 8 May 2020

Ministers Ring and Canney launch €40 million COVID-19 support package for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises

Funding will help alleviate funding challenges faced by organisations most in need

Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development and Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, have today (Friday, 8 May) announced the launch of a €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises.

A large number of these organisations are providing critical services to vulnerable individuals and groups in society arising from the COVID-19 crisis. Many of these organisations now find themselves in financial difficulty as fundraising efforts, commercial activities and other services they rely on have been curtailed due to the ongoing crisis.

The €40 million funding package is being made available through the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is specifically set aside to support initiatives which will benefit the most disadvantaged groups in society.

The package consists of:

  • A €35 million ‘COVID-19 Stability Fund’ which will provide a level of support to qualifying organisations who are most in need and have seen their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis; and
  • A €5m Government commitment to a Philanthropy Fund, (Innovate Together) which will focus on supporting responses to the COVID-19 crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging challenges.


Speaking about the funding package unveiled today, Minister Ring said:

“I am acutely aware of the impact of the current restrictions on the funding of charities, social enterprises and community and voluntary organisations and on the services they deliver to those most in need. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their contribution to the inspiring community response to the current crisis.

“This significant funding package for the sector will help to assist these key organisations to weather the crisis and allow them to maintain their valuable services”.

The Minister continued:

“Today’s announcement shows that Government has heard the concerns of the sector and, despite the significant financial constraints we now face, we have worked creatively to deliver this significant response. The Stability Fund will be administered by Pobal in conjunction with my Department.  However, it should be said that while the funding provided will be very welcome, Minister Canney and I recognise that significant challenges remain for community and voluntary groups and charities during this time.  Government Departments and Agencies will continue to work closely with the sector in managing through these challenges over the coming months.”

The Minister concluded:

“Community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises have played a very significant role in supporting vulnerable people in our communities over recent weeks, particularly in the context of the Government Community Call.  I would like to commend them on that work, which I know is continuing.” 

This new funding is being provided in addition to the more than €45 million in funding, announced last November, for the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2020. That funding was allocated for 43 separate measures to be delivered across 9 Government Departments to benefit disadvantaged groups.

On foot of the unveiling of today’s funding package, Minister Canney stated:

“When the Dormant Accounts Fund was established, provision was made for supporting the most disadvantaged in our society with any available funds. This package being put in place today achieves exactly that, making sure that these funds are being put to the best possible use at a time of real need for many in society.”

Minister Canney continued:

“I wish to put on record my thanks to Social Innovation Fund Ireland, which will be administering the Innovate Together, Philanthropy Fund. By joining forces with the philanthropic community, not only will we leverage donations for this important initiative but we can also tap into the innovative experience and expertise which already exists in this sector.

“The new funding package announced today will ensure that the organisations assisting our most vulnerable groups can continue this important work so that people can get the help and support that they need during these most challenging of times.”

The funding package for these organisations is complementary to the range of other supports provided by the Government to support businesses, employers and employees on foot of the crisis.

Full details of the Philanthropy fund can be found here.

Full details of the Stability fund can be found here.


COVID 19 Stability Fund

The Stability Fund has been developed to provide support to qualifying organisations who find themselves in particular difficulty and have seen their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis.    The Fund will be focusing on organisations providing supports and services in the following sectors

  • Health and Social Care (including addiction, disability and mental health)
  • Child and Family Services (including counselling/therapies)
  • Domestic/Sexual/Gender based violence
  • Housing/Homelessness
  • Community Services (e.g. meals on wheels/befriending services/old age supports/vulnerable people’s support groups etc.)
  • Community Education Sector


With funding being provided from the Dormant Accounts Fund the new Stability Fund will provide a once off grant to qualifying organisations that are providing critical services to those most vulnerable in society. Organisations will be required to demonstrate the impact that the crisis has had on their services and applications will be prioritised according to need. Pobal (www.pobal.ie), which works on behalf of Government to support communities and local agencies toward achieving social inclusion and development, will administer the Stability Fund on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Stability Fund will open for applications on the 11th of May 2020. Further details on the Fund can be found on the Department’s website at (www.gov.ie/drcd) and also on the Pobal website at www.pobal.ie.

Email queries can be sent to stabilityscheme@pobal.ie


The Philanthropy Fund – Innovate Together

The Philanthropy Fund – Innovate Together, which is complementary to the Stability Fund, is a unique transformative opportunity for the community and voluntary, charity and social enterprise sectors in Ireland to innovate and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

The Fund comprises a €5m commitment from the Department of Rural and Community Development (from the Dormant Accounts Fund) which will allow grants to be administered immediately and donations to be leveraged over time from the philanthropic community. The Fund will be administered by Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) on behalf of the Department with grants of up to €200,000 available.

The focus of the Fund will be on backing innovations which are already developed or are being developed during the crisis that need to become the “new normal”, including innovations in organisations that are adapting and developing innovative business delivery models and/or income generation streams in a changing economic and societal landscape.

Purpose of the Fund

The purpose of the Fund is to support adaptation and innovation in finding solutions to emerging needs e.g.

  • enabling on-line education particularly for disadvantaged groups;
  • on-line youth mental health interventions;
  • community outreach to vulnerable groups while social distancing;
  • re-skilling the workforce for new ways of working;
  • developing the circular economy; and
  • new approaches to solutions for food security.

Eligibility for Funding

  • Funds will be available to a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organization based in Ireland delivering services/activities in Irish communities.
  • Only organisations in existence prior to 1 January 2019 and operational on 1st March 2020 will be eligible as this will provide evidence of appropriate governance and financial stability.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate suitable governance and a fund management structure.

The Fund will open for applications on the Wednesday 13th  May.  Further details can be found on the Department’s website (www.gov.ie/drcd) and at http://www.socialinnovation.ie

Examples of other Government Supports

  • COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme
  • Pandemic Unemployment Payment
  • €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund
  • €250 million Restart Fund to assist micro and small businesses
  • 3 month waiver on commercial rates for affected businesses worth €250 million.

The Dormant Accounts Fund

The main purpose of the Dormant Accounts legislation is to reunite account or policy holders with their funds; and relevant institutions are required to take steps to identify and contact the owners of dormant accounts and unclaimed life assurance policies. Under the legislation, the rightful owners can reclaim their funds at any time.

In order to utilise funds that are unlikely to be reclaimed, the legislation introduced a scheme for the disbursement of funds that are unlikely to be reclaimed for the purposes of measures to assist those who are economically, socially or educationally disadvantaged, or persons with a disability.

Annual Dormant Accounts Action Plans are published each year, and generally provide funding of €35-40 million per annum for measures aimed at addressing disadvantage. This funding package is a once off package of €40 million, in addition to those annual action plans, and is made possible through a build-up in the funds available over the last number of years.



Pobal is an organisation that works on behalf of the Government of Ireland and in collaboration with international partners, to support communities and local agencies towards achieving social inclusion and development.

Pobal operates under the aegis of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Pobal is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors. Members of the Board are appointed by Government, on the nomination of the Minister for Rural and Community Development, in line with the Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards. The company operates on the basis of a framework agreement with the Department of Rural and Community Development and programme-specific service level agreements with individual Departments.

Pobal administers related programmes on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD), Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), as well as the Department of Health (DoH) /HSE and a number of EU bodies.

Pobal works in the areas of social inclusion, early childhood care and education, local and community development, peace and reconciliation, equality, labour market supports, and education and training.


Social Innovation Fund Ireland

Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) is a national organisation supporting Ireland’s best social innovations through cash grants and business support. SIFI’s purpose is to make Ireland a better, more inclusive place through social innovation.

SIFI partners with corporates, SME’s, families and individuals who want new, tangible and real-world ways to tackle some of the pressing issues facing Irish society.

For more information see: http://www.socialinnovation.ie

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