Cancer society praises amount raised despite recession


CHARITIES IN FOCUS:THE IRISH Cancer Society has described as “humbling” the amount of money raised for the charity through fundraising measures despite the onset of the recession.

John McCormack, chief executive of the society, said that although the sums being raised by individual fundraising events has fallen in recent years, this drop has been offset by initiatives such as the highly successful Movember campaign and the Shave or Dye annual fundraiser which is done in conjunction with Today FM.

“We’re definitely seeing less money for the same level of activity. Individual donations have either plateaued or fallen a bit but overall income has remained largely the same. It’s very hard to get growth in a climate like this but generally the Irish people have stood by us,” he said, adding that the charity was conscious how hard times were for people.He said it was “humbling” that such support had been retained.

The charity has seen an increase in demand for services, particularly in applications for its cash assistance service, a €1 million annual fund which aids cancer sufferers to pay bills associated with their illness when State benefits such as social welfare assistance, disability allowance or community welfare grants are unavailable to them.

In 2010, the society provided more than €900,000 in financial aid to some 1,600 people who had experienced hardship arising from a cancer diagnosis. This compares to €700,000 which the charity supplied under the fund in 2009 and €644,000 in 2008.

“With 30,000 new cases of cancer in Ireland every year more and more of those people, because of the recession, are going to have increased difficulty when it comes to paying the bills,” Mr McCormack said.

There has also been increased demand for the society’s free night nursing service, allowing families to provide end-of-life care to their loved ones at home, which saw 2,018 people receive 7,187 nights of nursing care in 2010.

The increase in demand for services has meant that the society, like many other charities, has had to introduce efficiencies in recent years. Mr McCormack says the charity did this by maximising the numbers of volunteers and constantly seeking better value for money for services and products.

“We are definitely living in a more competitive world in terms of getting things done and we are constantly pushing to get more services provided at a better price and looking for better value all the time,” he said.

Payments to executives have been frozen for the past three years, although Mr McCormack, who is one of three executives at the charity who earns more than €100,000 a year, said that the voluntary sector is competitive and that it is important for charities to attract people with the necessary skills to fill these positions. “For a national organisation that provides services in every county in Ireland I think it’s very appropriate,” he said.

Of the money which the charity receives through fundraising, 58 per cent comes from community and national fundraising. A further 18 per cent is raised through wills and bequests, corporate fundraising makes up 14 per cent of funding, while just over 10 per cent comes from other sources, including direct marketing and through charity shops.

Fundraising overall makes up 95 per cent of its income – its Daffodil Day campaign raised €3.4 million this year – although the charity also receives 5 per cent Government funding, which Mr McCormack said has been retained. The charity runs two initiatives in conjunction with the Government: the National Smokers’ Quitline and the Care to Drive scheme, which sees volunteers drive cancer patients to and from treatments.

Mr McCormack said many challenges remained for the society in 2012 at a time when more women were now dying of lung cancer in Ireland than breast cancer. He is hopeful that a Government commitment to provide bowel cancer screening for patients between the ages of 60 and 69 will come into effect next year.

This week The Irish Timeslooks at charities in the recession