Support for other Civil Society Organisations

Irish Aid Headquarters provides funding to a range of international and Irish civil society organisations for their work on specific priority areas. These organisations are strategically placed within their sector to assist on the delivery of our civil society policy objectives. 

Misean Cara

We provide funding to missionaries through Misean Cara, the Government’s official, centralised channel of support to Irish missionary organisations working in developing countries. Our assistance is channelled to areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture, peace and justice, and the promotion of human rights through sub-grants to missionary congregations. 

Misean Cara was established in 2004 and was originally known as Irish Missionary Resource Service. It is an umbrella body of Irish religious organisations engaged in international development in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 

Misean Cara is primarily a funding body that administers and distributes funds for the overseas development work of its 89 member organisations. The locations where Irish missionaries work are often some of the poorest and most remote communities in the developing world.

Irish Aid’s funding relationship with Misean Cara is governed by:

Key objectives in Misean Cara’s programme plan include supporting missionaries’ development work, strengthening Misean Cara as a learning organisation dedicated to good development practice and capacity building of members and Misean Cara. 

The current MoU runs from 2011 to 2012 and a total of €32m has been provided in this timeframe (€16 million in 2012 and €16 million in 2011).

Irish Fair Trade Network

We provide funding support to Fairtrade producers in developing countries through the Irish Fair Trade Network (IFTN). Irish Government funding also supports IFTN’s development education work in Ireland.

Irish Aid is currently funding two Fairtrade programmes; one in Central America and the other in East Africa. The objectives of these programmes are to contribute to poverty reduction by increasing the income earned by small farmers from the sale of their products at fair trade prices and through greater access to global markets

The programmes seek to:

Irish Aid has been one of the largest donors to Fairtrade through the Irish Fairtrade Network (IFTN) and since 2002, has approved grants of over €20 million. In 2012, Irish Aid provided funding of €2.6 million to IFTN.


Dóchas is a representative association for Irish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in overseas development. 

As an umbrella body, Dóchas provides a forum for dialogue on development issues for its member organisations. Organisations have the opportunity to consult and co-ordinate with others through working groups on a range of development issues including humanitarian action, disability, food security, HIV and AIDS and development education

Dóchas also plays a key role in developing good practice standards in the sector, where members learn from each other and work together to develop standards.

Examples of good practice standards developed by Dóchas and its members are the:

Dóchas provides policy advice, undertakes research, and engages in advocacy and awareness campaigns on development issues in Ireland and the European Union. It is the Irish representative on the European Union NGO co-ordination structure, CONCORD.

Our funding relationship with Dóchas is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which clearly sets out our partnership and shared priorities. These shared priorities include facilitating learning and collaboration amongst Dóchas members, developing good practice standards in the development sector and ensuring a high levels of accountability and transparency are maintained, for example in partnership approaches and financial reporting.

The current MoU runs from 2011 to 2014 and approximately €1 million will be provided in this timeframe.  In 2012, Irish Aid provided €250,000 to Dóchas.


Comhlámh is a membership organisation that promotes best practice in international volunteering. Members are generally returned development workers or volunteers.

Comhlámh provides information and advice to people interested in international volunteering. It also provides training and support services for volunteers in advance of and after overseas assignments.

Established in 1975, Comhlámh works closely with volunteer sending agencies to help them to adhere to quality standards. It does this by monitoring the way in which the standards in the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Organisations and a Volunteer Charter for volunteers are applied. 

Both the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Organisations and the Volunteer Charter aim to ensure that international volunteering has a positive impact on the volunteer, the host project and community and the volunteer sending agency.

Our funding relationship with Comhlámh is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which sets out clearly the partnership between the two organisations and the shared objectives. 

These objectives include providing information and support services for volunteers and returned development workers, monitoring the Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Organisations and undertaking research and analysis on the international volunteering sector.

The current MoU runs from 2012 to 2013. In 2012, Irish Aid provided €422,147 to Comhlámh.

Farm Radio International

Farm Radio International works to build the capacity of African radio stations to produce and air participatory radio programmes for smallholder farmers.

These radio programmes provide information to smallholder farmers on various agricultural research products and agronomic practices. They act as a key link between farmers and research centres, thus improving the rates of adoption of agricultural technology and agricultural productivity.

Smallholder farmers are consulted prior to, during and after the making of these radio programmes to ensure the programmes reflect their needs and interests. They can also ask questions and seek solutions to various adoption problems throughout the radio campaign from researchers and extension agents.

We began supporting FRI in 2012. Our support is focused on encouraging the uptake of nutrition-sensitive and climate smart agricultural practices by smallholder farmers, particularly women. Our support is focused on four countries with some of the highest rates of undernutrition: MalawiTanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an alliance driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. Created in 2002 at a Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children, GAIN is a Swiss foundation headquartered in Geneva. 

GAIN supports public-private partnerships to increase access to the nutrients through nutritionally-enhanced food products. GAIN works in partnership with governments and international agencies companies and civil society organisations in 30 countries.

Its goal is to reach 1.5 billion people with nutritious foods that have sustainable nutritional impact. Half of the beneficiaries are women and children.

Since 2010, we have provided €3.4m in grant funding to GAIN Irish Aid for collaborations in Mozambique, Southern Africa and Vietnam to increase access to micro-nutrients and fortified foods through social marketing and distribution to vulnerable groups.

We and other donors work closely with GAIN to develop partnerships with business within the global Scaling Up Nutrition movement.

Helen Keller International

Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, Helen Keller International (HKI) is among the oldest international NGOs (non-governmental organisations). HKI is a technical assistance agency that emphasises building technical and operational capacity of local partners to provide services to those in need.

HKI seeks to develop, test and scale up effective interventions, and to embed sustainable delivery of the interventions within partner and community structures.

The organisation focuses on nutrition, eye health and neglected tropical diseases in 22 countries: 13 in Africa, 8 in Asia-Pacific, and the United States. 

In nutrition, HKI’s technical portfolio is organised around the Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) framework. This is rooted in a strong behaviour change component, which also extends to public private partnerships in the area of large-scale food fortification, agriculture nutrition links with work on homestead food production as well as work with bio-fortified crops such as orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP).

Since 2010, we have provided €1.5 million to HKI to promote orange-fleshed sweet potato in Mozambique, homestead food production in Tanzania and to scale up availability of micronutrient powders through the Cambodia health system. 

All programmes adopt an integrated approach of promoting essential nutrition actions and operational research to better understand the drivers of under-nutrition and appropriate responses. 

Development Studies Association Ireland

The Development Studies Association, Ireland (DSAI) is the Irish affiliate of the DSA UK and Ireland.

We have commenced a new two-year partnership with the DSAI to advance a more dynamic and connected development sector in Ireland, which in turn will contribute to the effective reduction of poverty and vulnerability in the world. 

Funding of €75,000 per year will be allocated to DSAI to support its role as the central point to connect and promote development research and learning in Ireland.

The purpose of bringing researchers and practitioners together across sectors and disciplines at conferences, workshops and seminars is to generate greater critical debate and better informed perspectives on development issues; to identify critical gaps in knowledge and to stimulate collaborative work to gather, create and share knowledge and evidence for the ultimate benefit of poor people.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a leading international NGO working on anti-corruption issues. It is a global network, which includes more than 90 locally-established national chapters. In its short history, it has been at the forefront of the considerable progress made in the area of anti-corruption, including by raising awareness, supporting reforms, and developing techniques for diagnosing and combating corruption worldwide.

We provide global support for Transparency International with a view to advancing on our priority of promoting accountability and transparency, and combating corruption at all levels.

This funding supports Transparency International’s overall work, with a particular focus on Africa, and enables Transparency International to implement its various programmes and activities (for example the publication of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index). 

Current Irish Aid funding to Transparency International amounts to €200,000 per annum for 2012-14. 

Read more about Civil Society funding

See Annex 18 of the Irish Aid Annual Report (PDF) (link) for a list of organisations that received funding through the main civil society funding schemes administered by Irish Aid HQ.