IT is the kind of Lotto-size windfall that struggling Irish charities can only dream about. The Irish Cancer Society has confirmed that it received a one-off €2.5m bequest from a mystery donor last year.
The identity of the deceased donor remains a mystery to the charity as it is one of the conditions of the bequest that the donor's identity stays private.
The charity's communications manager, Grainne O'Rourke, said the bequest was the single highest that it had ever received.
Asked what the €2.5m was spent on, Ms O'Rourke said: "€1m was used to fund the society's grant to the State to support the roll-out of bowel screening.
"The balance was used to significantly increase our spend on research. The total spent on research in 2011 was €3.4m."
Ms O'Rourke said that in the year to date over 100 bequests had been received, most of them under €10,000. She added: "Five bequests of between €100,000 and €200,000 each have been received."
The €2.5m donation allowed the society – the largest voluntary funder of cancer research in Ireland – to increase its revenues by 21.5pc last year, from €17.5m to €21.2m.
Excluding the donation, the society managed to buck the recessionary trend by increasing revenues by 7pc.
The organisation's annual accounts state: "The success of the year would not have been possible without two notable income streams – the Shave or Dye campaign run by Today FM, which raised €1.3m, and the generosity of some key donors making contributions towards the development of our Daffodil centres.
"Other campaigns which increased income in 2011 were Movember, corporate sponsorship and our shops."
The returns show that one employee earned in excess of €125,000 and the ICS confirmed that CEO John McCormack was the top earner. One other employee received over €100,000.
The society's cash in the bank last year decreased marginally to €8.3m.