In 2012 Diageo Ireland donated over €1m to charities, community groups and social entrepreneurs across Ireland through initiatives such as the Arthur Guinness Fund, Gifted, and Double Your Fundraising. In addition to this, Diageo Ireland supports many community and sporting organisations and events in Ireland.

Ailish Forde, Head of Public Policy, Industry Affairs & Corporate Social Responsibility, Diageo Ireland

Diageo Ireland, has a long tradition of supporting communities and sport in Ireland, do you see potential for businesses in improving their CSR programmes through sporting engagement?

AF: Sporting organisations are at the heart of so many communities As a country we love sport and it is important for business to promote sport .  Here in Diageo, we also find that it is really valuable in engaging employees, many of whom are involved in sporting organisations, and are delighted to get involved in our CSR activity.

In 2009 Diageo Ireland set up the Arthur Guinness Fund, what instigated this change in approach to CSR and what benefits has Diageo Ireland gained from the programme?

AF: The creation of the Arthur Guinness Fund is a source of great pride to us here in Diageo. It’s true to the core values of the Guinness brand and everything it stands for. It’s in keeping with Arthur Guinness’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and it’s a great tribute to the remarkable man that he was.  We wanted to do something special to mark the Guinness 250th anniversary in 2009, and to create a cornerstone for our CSR activity.

The Fund supports and empowers social entrepreneurs who have projects and initiatives that are innovative, sustainable and benefit communities across Ireland.  Social entrepreneurs are people who look at a specific issue or problem and try to address it in an innovative and creative way.   Since 2009 thirty projects have been selected for support from the Fund.

To date the Fund has distributed €3m to Irish social entrepreneurs as well as practical support and business mentoring for all our awardees.  For us, it embodies the spirit of Diageo and the Guinness brand – doing business by doing good.

The Arthur Guinness Fund supports innovative social entrepreneurs not only financially but through mentoring and workshops, do you see sport as playing a future role in putting forward projects for consideration?

AF: Absolutely.  When we look at people and organisations that benefit communities in Ireland, sport always comes to mind. We would love to see more sports projects, particularly given the Guinness brand’s long association with sporting events.

What advice would you give to any sports organisation looking to secure funding under any of your CSR programmes? 

AF: In any of the organisations we support through our CSR activity, we look for projects that make a real difference to the lives of people across Ireland every day.  Whether in a small community or nationally, making a difference is what matters, and what influences our decision to provide support.

Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us, finally what was your personal highlight of the sporting year 2012 and anything you are particularly looking forward to in 2013?

AF: Europe winning the Ryder Cup was definitely a highlight – a real example of self –belief and commitment.  For 2013, our national sport of hurling is a highlight for me and I look forward to watching it. I also look forward to supporting Irish rugby and in particular Munster and Leinster rugby and I wish them both the best in their upcoming respective European competitions.

For more information on Diageo Irelands CSR programmes see below:

To read Beyond Sport’s Research on CSR: