Competition and Challenges in Irish Nonprofits

It’s a pretty interesting concept to me that charities can have “competitors.” Seems pretty counterproductive, right? But competition is a natural part of the business world, even for nonprofits. There are a few major homeless charities in Dublin, including my company Focus Ireland, Simon Support, and Peter McVerry. Often, we try to collaborate with similar nonprofits on projects, but they tend to say no. To me, it doesn’t make much sense that the other companies wouldn’t team up for the common good to combat homelessness but then again, it is a business after all.

In the nonprofit industry surrounding homelessness, there are a few unique challenges. For one, it can be difficult for our customers to get in contact with us. Most of our case work is managed through the phone or computer and since those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless don’t have access to these resources, they may be stuck without any way to contact us for help.

Also, a lot of people won’t reach out for help even if they can find the resources to do so. There is a great deal of shame and embarrassment surrounding the issue of homelessness in Ireland. Many people feel that seeking help means that they are accepting defeat. It is often an uphill battle to get our customers to acknowledge that we can provide them with the help that they need.

At Focus Ireland, we reach out to a wide array of professionals to assist us with our work. For example, our Women’s Philanthropy Circle is made up of a network of 200 successful businesswomen who donate at least 100 Euro a month in order to combat the root causes of youth homelessness. There are benefits for both groups: the businesswomen can make a long-lasting impact on vulnerable youth across Dublin and the homeless youth reap the benefits of the members’ generous donations.

I am proud to work for a company that is more interested in truly helping the homeless than in getting the most business. We do great work with other professionals, and I think that this allows us to have a more lasting impact on both our customers and the community at large.