Charity's funds hit by phone price fall


Revenue from sale of second-hand mobiles is vital to work of Jack & Jill Foundation, says chief executive, writes GORDON DEEGAN

THE COLLAPSE in the international price for second-hand mobile phones this year has hit one children’s charity’s revenues by between €200,000 and €300,000.

However, chief executive of the Jack Jill Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, said yesterday that the charity had been able to make up the loss on the revenue from second-hand mobile phones by increasing the contributions it received from the corporate sector.

The revenues from the second-hand phones are vital to the foundation and Mr Irwin said that in a good year, the charity would raise more from the mobile phones than it received from the HSE.

The charity is on course to generate €3.5 million this year to allow it to continue to provide care to 274 children with neurological illness, said Mr Irwin.

The foundation provides early intervention home respite care to families with children with severe development delay who require extended care.

Mr Irwin explained that usually, the charity raises €600,000 per annum from the 400,000 or so second-hand phones handed into the charity.

“We receive the bulk of the phones that are given to charity in Ireland,” he said.

However, the price of second-hand phones dropped from $10 (€7.50) to $4.50 (€3.40) earlier this year, resulting in a major dent in the foundation’s revenues.

The phones are brought to Shenzhen, China, where dealers from all over the world gather to purchase them.

“The price for a second-hand mobile phone is now back up to $6.75 [€5.10] . If there wasn’t the drop in value for mobile phones this year, it would have been our best year ever for fundraising,” said Mr Irwin.

Mr Irwin established the charity after finding that there were no services for his son, Jack, whowas born in February 1996 but died 22 months later after succumbing to illness brought about by major neurological difficulties.

Since the foundation was established, it has raised €42 million and today has a team of 11 paediatric nurses.

Accounts for last year show that the charity recorded a €321,893 loss and this followed a loss of €350,365 in 2009.

Mr Irwin said that the foundation is hoping to break even this year. Last year, it received €631,000 in Government funding.

According to Mr Irwin, anyone in Ireland is never more than 15km from a Jack Jill baby. He said: “We have never turned away a baby and we never will.”

Mr Irwin said that a Trinity College Dublin study has found that care provided by the Jack Jill Foundation is nine times cheaper that hospital care.