Gorta-Self Help Africa staff raised concerns over ‘questionable use’ of donor funds

Staff critical of support to charity co-founded by singer Alicia Keys as ‘costly blind alley’

Senior staff in Irish aid charity Gorta-Self Help Africa raised concerns over the “questionable use” of donor funds and public money to support a US charity co-founded by pop singer Alicia Keys.

An internal investigation found senior staff felt support provided to the charity, Keep a Child Alive (KCA), had amounted to a “costly blind alley”.

The inquiry, undertaken by barrister Gearóid Ó Brádaigh, followed seven senior staff members in Gorta-Self Help Africa filing a wide-ranging complaint against then-chief executive Ray Jordan last March.


The complaint raised concerns over the use of donor funds, public money and staff time to support KCA, a New York-based charity set up to support children suffering from HIV in developing countries.


Staff claimed Gorta-Self Help Africa had invested “over 600 hours of staff time” to support the charity, despite Mr Jordan indicating KCA would pay for the help, which was to be for an initial two-month period.

The report found “the provision of those services and the costs to the organisation continued for far longer than initially anticipated and eventually it emerged that no payments would be made for the services”.

The complaint said in late 2020 Mr Jordan required the “urgent” development of a website for KCA, which staff said then never launched.

It also said new staff were hired to provide services for KCA, while redundancies were taking place elsewhere in Gorta-Self Help Africa.

The report found at least one staff member was hired “specifically” to help KCA, with the cost of the post not recovered. This is despite minutes of a January 2021 meeting showing Mr Jordan stated funding for the position “would be covered” by KCA.

Mr Jordan told the investigator it was “incorrect” to suggest staff spending time to help “develop a partnership with a like-minded non-profit” was wrong. He said it was a “good use of staff time” and in line with the charity’s overall objectives.

Mr Jordan rejected all of the complaints made by staff, which he told the investigator were a co-ordinated attempt to “destroy his good name”.

The report upheld the complaint about resources spent supporting KCA, finding there was an “unavoidable sense of the senior staff expressing their frustration with unfilled promises and merger fatigue” within Gorta-Self Help Africa.

The report indicated that staff at the overseas development charity, which mainly focuses on supporting small farmers in Africa, had “lost all confidence” in Mr Jordan as chief executive.


Several months after the report was completed in July 2022 Mr Jordan left the charity. Late last year he took up a role as chief of international network for UK-based charity Penny Appeal.

The report noted a possible merger between Gorta and Penny Appeal had previously been pursued, but the partnership had “not panned out”.

The report also examined complaints about Mr Jordan’s treatment of staff.

It found in one incident Mr Jordan accepted and “regrets that he sent an inappropriately worded email” to one staff member after the charity was unsuccessful in applying for funding.

In another incident, Mr Jordan began disciplinary proceedings against a staff member which were later dropped. The report said the failure to clearly inform the employee of the status of the action “falls short of best practice” of a chief executive.

Neither Mr Jordan nor Gorta-Self Help Africa responded to requests for comment on the internal report.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times