The future of Benefacts is uncertain. Find out more

Nonprofit company directors and charity trustees are accountable to stakeholders rather than to owners or investors. They are responsible for governance standards - including compliance with mandatory regulation and voluntary codes - and disclosure standards. Read more about where Benefacts gets data on nonprofit directors and charity trustees.

  • 86,481 people currently serve in the governance of Ireland’s 15,200 regulated nonprofits (up by 6% on the number reported in 2019). At least 4,800 of them serve on multiple boards, more than 2,000 of whom serve on the board of a company and a charity.
  • 49,860 directors serve on 9,800 nonprofit company Boards,  4,880 of which are registered charities. This means there are 28,687 people who are director/trustees of incorporated charities.
  • 36,619 people serve on the boards of 5,400 charities that are not incorporated.
Venn Diagram

Number of directors and trustees on nonprofit boardsSource: Benefacts

Governance profile of Irish nonprofits

While a nonprofit board typically has six members, it is slightly higher for charities (seven) than non-charities (four). These averages are unchanged since our 2019 report. The largest boards are in education and research and the smallest in philanthropy and voluntarism, environment and international. Limited governance data is available for sports and religious organisations.

Board size

Average number of nonprofit board membersSource: Benefacts

Profile of nonprofit board service

On average, nonprofit directors/trustees serve for 5 consecutive years. The longest average term of service is in local development (average 7 years) and the shortest is in education, research (average 4 years). These numbers have changed marginally since our 2019 report.


23% of the directors/charity trustees of Irish nonprofits have served for more than 9 years – considered the maximum appropriate term for good governance. This is down on the profile we reported in 2019.

The sectors with the greatest number of long-serving directors/charity trustees are Local Development & Housing, Recreation & Sports each 37%; the sector with the lowest is Education, Research at 9%

Gender balance on the boards of Irish nonprofits

Drill down menu click on a sector for a further breakdown.

Gender balance of nonprofit boards by sector

Source: Benefacts

Our analysis of the gender profile of  nonprofit boards indicates men outnumber women, with men making up 57% of nonprofit board seats. This profile is changed marginally from data published in 2019.

Age Profile

The average age of all nonprofit directors/charity trustees is 57.

Average age of nonprofit directors/charity trustees by sector

Source: Benefacts

Benefacts future is uncertain

At the end of July the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) wrote to say that they would provide no further funding for Benefacts after our current funding agreement expires on 31st December.

According to Minister Michael McGrath’s officials, the project “has met its initial policy rationale of assisting the development of a market for data on the nonprofit sector by stimulating demand from public bodies for such data”.

Despite our strenuous representations, DPER officials reconfirmed earlier this week that “this Department will not be providing further grants to Benefacts in 2021 following the expiration of the current Funding Agreement”. Accordingly the Board had no choice but to commence arrangements for winding up the company and terminating contracts including those with our 20 staff (15 full-time equivalents).