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Thursday 18 September 2014

FG raises €900,000 in raffle but is set to lose its golden goose

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 13/12/2012 | 05:00

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TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has raked in another €900,000 into Fine Gael coffers.

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Despite the economic downturn, Fine Gael still raised the sum from the party's annual raffle by selling over 11,000 tickets at €80 a pop.

But Mr Kenny is now losing his chief fundraiser, who was a key player in the party's political rejuvenation.

After a decade in the job, Fine Gael national fundraiser Anne Strain is leaving at the end of the month.

Ms Strain was successful in transforming the party's fundraising capabilities with a range of events, including the revamped million-euro national draw, a Presidential dinner and golf classics.

The party's 'Election Super Draw' remains the most lucrative fundraiser by any political party in the country.

Over the course of 11 draws, since Fine Gael's raffle was set up by Mr Kenny following the 2002 General Election meltdown, the party has raised almost €12.3m from ticket sales.

The party has developed the slickest and most profitable fundraising operation in the country, largely through Ms Strain's work.

Ironically, since going into power after the 2011 General Election, the party has actually failed to break into seven figures after a streak of million-euro takes from the draw for seven straight years.

This year, Fine Gael still sold 11,128 tickets – down from the 12,200 tickets last year.

Mr Kenny has always appealed directly to the party's grassroots members to support the raffle to assist the growth of the party.

Individual constituencies are assigned targets of ticket sales and TDs are drawn into the efforts to sell tickets.

The funds have been pumped into the development of the party organisation, candidates and election campaigns.

Last night, a spokesman said the party was pleasantly surprised with the amount raised from the draw this year.

"It's a very positive result in what was obviously been a very difficult year," the spokesman said.

As part of Mr Kenny's reorganisation of the party after the 2002 debacle, Mr Kenny appointed Ms Strain as a full-time fundraiser to the Fine Gael staff to organise the party's efforts to boost its finances.

Fine Gael's national draw is by far and away the most successful and best organised of any of the political parties.

The first prize in Fine Gael's raffle was €20,000, with another 19 prizes worth from €10,000 down to €1,000, and a batch of smaller prizes.

Irish Independent

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