Evaluating Atlantic Philanthropies' Migration Programme for Ireland

Irish crowd walking

Between 2004 and 2014, The Atlantic Philanthropies awarded $40 million to 18 civil society organisations in the Republic of Ireland.

Efforts funded by Migration Programme grants resulted in a more robust and professional network of organisations working more strategically and collaboratively to achieve a common goal of improving the lives of migrants in Ireland.

Background

Over the course of the 1990s, Ireland saw a substantial increase in migration, which reached a peak in 2006-07. During this period, migrants as a percentage of the total population in Ireland rose from 10 to 20 per cent, one of the largest such increases recorded in countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Those changes in the make-up of the population placed pressures on the existing legislative framework regulating migrants’ rights to work, reside and use services. It also put demands on government departments and services, and had implications for community cohesion.

As part of its Human Rights & Reconciliation Programme, The Atlantic Philanthropies began making grants in the Republic of Ireland in 2004 designed to bring about lasting improvements in the country’s ability to manage migration and improve migrants’ access to justice and services. Between 2004 and 2014 Atlantic awarded $40 million to 18 civil society organisations in the Republic of Ireland. It also supported organisations working to influence European Union policy affecting immigrants.

Goals

Atlantic commissioned RAND Europe in 2012 to undertake an evaluation of their migration programme. The evaluation focused on the impacts that the Migration Programme achieved in law, policy and practice in Ireland, and the lessons that might be drawn for other grant makers and grantees.

Methodology

RAND Europe’s evaluation was based on extensive qualitative data collected from grantees through interviews and the completion of a questionnaire submitted to the research team every six months during 2013 and 2014. The approach was designed to accommodate uncertainty and detect any unexpected impacts and outcomes, as well as to capture learning from both the grantees and Atlantic.

Events

During the evaluation, RAND Europe coordinated an Impact Showcase Workshop in Dublin on 23 October 2014. This was attended by all of the recent Atlantic grantees. It provided an opportunity for shared learning and a celebration of impacts to date.

Findings

  • The evaluation found that the successful implementation of field-building efforts resulted in a more robust and professional network of organisations working to achieve a common goal of improving the lives of migrants in Ireland.
  • The civil society organisations supported by Atlantic operated more strategically, collaborated and cooperated more frequently and effectively, and demonstrated improved leadership and strategic planning.
  • While it is difficult to provide hard evidence of the impacts of advocacy, Atlantic grantees described numerous contributions to changes in practice, policy and law in Ireland which directly impacted the lives of migrants and asylum seekers. Some of these impacts—namely those that changed law—are clearly sustainable and long-term.
  • The evaluation has identified a number of promising practices in the field of migration and more broadly across a range of policy areas. These practices may be useful for civil society organisations advocating for policy and practice change, as well as for funders supporting such organisations.