independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Don't tar all of us with same brush, pleads charity boss

Tony Heffernan with Lucy Holton from the Life line ambulance service at the launch of the Bumblence mobile phone fundraising campaign.
Picture By David Conachy.  23/1/2013
Tony Heffernan with Lucy Holton from the Life line ambulance service at the launch of the Bumblence mobile phone fundraising campaign.

DONATIONS to a charity for gravely ill children have fallen by as much as 30 per cent since the top-up scandal erupted.

The financial loss to the Saoirse Foundation has been in the "tens of thousands" of euro, its founder and CEO Tony Heffernan has estimated.

Mr Heffernan, who does not draw any wages or expenses from the organisation, has issued an appeal that all charities not be tarred with the same brush.

It comes following a string of revelations about aid groups topping up the salaries of their executives with money donated by the public.

Tony and his wife Mary established the foundation in the wake of their five-year-old daughter Saoirse's death from Batten Disease.

"Yes, we have (suffered a dip in donations). I don't think it's quite fair," Mr Heffernan told the Sunday Independent.

"I understand the concerns but the tar brush is out and some media, not yourselves, are saying all CEOs should declare their wages.

"I've been doing this since day one. I do not get paid. I don't get a bonus, I don't get a top-up and I don't have a pension. I'm doing this as a CEO running three charity initiatives for free as well as having my own job," he said.

"We have found a depreciation in subscriptions, without doubt. (The drop is) 20 to 30 per cent. We get no State support whatsoever for our services so that's significant," he said.

The Co Kerry-based charity includes the awareness-raising Bee for Battens project and last year launched its Bumbleance initiative – an ambulance which transports sick children to hospital, treatment centres or a hospice.

"I would appeal to people to investigate us. We're not all the same. There are a lot of good charities out there. This negative public image is affecting the people who solely rely on public donations to make a difference," he added.

Irish Independent

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