Funds down after revelations of top-up payments to CRC executives
Fundraising Ireland says revelations having a ‘disproportionate and unfair impact’ on efforts of charities
Lorraine Dempsey of the Special Needs Parents Association: said parents who had actively fundraised for the organisation did so in the belief that money raised would give their children a better chance of accessing services. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Charities have reported a drop in donations which they have attributed to revelations that money raised through fundraising were used to top up payments to executives in the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).
Fundraising Ireland, an umbrella organisation for professional fundraisers including a number of well-known Irish charities, has said its members were reporting people cancelling their charitable donations and that appeal funds were down.
Chief executive Anne Hanniffy said the revelations were having a “disproportionate and unfair impact” on the funding efforts of charities and people reliant on such charities.
She made her comments after it emerged that money raised by charitable company Friends and Supporters of the Remedial Clinic, which generates funds from a lottery, were used to top up the salaries of senior staff at the CRC.
“This is concerning for hard- pressed organisations so openly reliant on public generosity and support,” Ms Hanniffy said.
“It is doubly concerning when the source of people’s frustration is an issue which has absolutely nothing to do with the way in which the vast majority of high quality not-for-profit organisations are funded and operated.”
She said Fundraising Ireland believed transparency, accountability and regulation were vital to any institution. “We owe it to donors that their money goes where they expect it to go.”
The chief executive and founder of the Jack and Jill Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, posted an open letter to the charity’s supporters in which he described the revelations around top-ups as “damaging”.
In it he set out his own salary, which stands at just under €90,000, and assured supporters he got “no top-up payments, no bonus, no pension”.
“The bottom line is that without the generosity of the general public we would not exist,” the letter said, while urging the charity’s supporters to continue to donate to the charity.
Meanwhile, a group representing the parents of special needs children, including those whose children have attended the CRC, said parents felt “betrayed” following the revelations that fundraising money raised by the Friends and Supporters of the Remedial Clinic went for staff remuneration.
Lorraine Dempsey of the Special Needs Parents Association said parents who had actively fundraised for the organisation did so in the belief that money raised would help increase the numbers of staff providing therapeutic interventions, thereby giving their children a better chance of accessing services.
“They were always under the assumption that the money being raised went directly to children and adult services provided by the CRC.”
Ms Dempsey said that there was a need for transparency across the sector and for such organisations to be regulated.
“We’re calling for greater transparency within this whole sector. We don’t have a charity regulator, we definitely need one. Organisations involved in fundraising need to be transparent with the public.”
Meanwhile the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, has called on the CRC to “come clean” on the payments to staff that were funded by donations.
“The revelations about the misuse of charitable donations by the CRC to top up the salaries of staff at the company is deeply concerning.”
Mr McGuinness said the committee was awaiting a report from the HSE around the CRC’s funding, which it expected to receive within the next week. “If we find it unsatisfactory we will call the CRC to appear before us.
“Before that I am calling on the CRC to make a comprehensive statement and come clean on the payments to staff that were funded by charitable donations.
“This statement must be full and frank and cover every aspect of their funding and where the money is going.
“This is a source of considerable public concern and needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency. The behaviour by the CRC is simply not good enough, the public will not accept it and I will not accept it.
“People give their hard-earned money to charity with the expectation, in this instance, that it goes towards children and adults with a range of disabilities. This is a gross breach of public trust, and the CRC must now explain itself in an open and transparent way.”