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 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barrack Obama

In late February this year, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) sent out a call inspired by the above quote. We asked the people of Ireland to share with us their ideas to change Ireland for the better.  This was our 2022 open call for applications.

We offered fifty places across two programmes, the Ideas Academy and the Impact Programme. Both of these programmes provide support, training and funding in key areas to help those driving social innovation thrive. The Ideas Academy is for those with earlier stage ideas and projects. These applicants often want support to pilot their idea. The Impact Programme provides bespoke support over nine months to social entrepreneurs who are making a leap into full-time focus on their mission.

We were blown away by the amazing people who applied to us with ideas to help change Ireland for the better. We wanted to share key data insights and trends we discovered from analysing this year’s 2022 national open call for applications.

Environmental issues are the most common problems people are trying to solve in 2022 

People are stepping up more than ever with innovative solutions that are looking to tackle the climate crisis. 19% of the open call applications in the Ideas Academy focused on climate issues (up from 12% last year), and 17% of applications for the Impact Programme (up from 10% in 2021). This could be because of recent IPCC reports and the greater consciousness of the scale of the climate crisis.

Other key spaces 2022 applicants are looking to create solutions for include education, disability, diversity and inclusion. After two years of a pandemic, and its impacts still reverberating across our society, it is perhaps unsurprising that sectors impacting vulnerable people are ones that applicants want to address. 

We reached more people than ever before in our 2022 open call communications campaign 

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and the work of our team, over 2.5 million people saw or heard this year’s advertising campaign. We also secured over 50 pieces of media coverage and our social media campaign generated over 970,000 impressions!

Judging by the numbers, we successfully convinced people to take action and take steps to ‘be the change they seek’, by applying to one of our programmes. Huge thanks to Global, Urban Media, Media Central, RedFM, the Irish Times and Irish Examiner, the Sunday Times and the Irish Daily Sun, and the Journal who supported our advertising campaign.

Through these outlets, we made sure that whether it was in your local shopping centre, through your phone, on the side of a bus or via the radio, people all across the island knew that there was an organisation looking to support them to make a positive change for their community.  

Demographics of the 2022 open call applicants 

At Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, we work hard to ensure that our pool of applicants is diverse and reflects the make-up of today’s society. For this reason, we ask applicants to share some personal information with us regarding their age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and religion.

Our research shows that most applicants for 2022 were aged between 35 and 44 years old. Often social entrepreneurs have lived experience of the problem they are trying to solve; this may explain the majority age demographic of applicants. For the Ideas Academy, just over one-third of applicants were non-white-Irish. We were also happy to see that around 15% of applicants are situated in Northern Ireland.

SEI is continuing to improve its diversity and inclusion, so thank you to each of our applicants for supporting us in answering those questions.  

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