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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Aid agency Concern halts slide in public donations

Gordon Deegan

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

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The economic situation is improving for families
The economic situation is improving for families

AID agency Concern has halted the steep drop in public donations to the charity in spite of controversies surrounding Irish charities towards the end of last year.

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New figures show that public donations to Concern last year dropped by 3pc from €41.76m to €40.56m, following an 18pc drop in 2012.

“We have been fortunate – and grateful to our supporters – to avoid any spectacular downfall in terms of falling donations and public support,” a spokeswoman for Concern said yesterday.

“While we have not faced a major impact on our donations this does not undermine our message that there is a significant need in Ireland for more transparency with regards to charity accounts. Like many other charities in Ireland, there are no expense accounts, top-up payments, bonuses or company cars at Concern. This is as it should be.

“Reports of salary top ups damages the public confidence in the charity sector as a whole and this needs to be urgently addressed.”

The steep drop in donations in 2012 was connected to no major emergency occurring that year – typically a major disaster sees a boost in donations from the public as a result of media coverage.

The 2013 annual report shows that the charity sharply reduced its losses last year from €3.89m to €1.7m.

This followed the charity’s overall income decreasing by 11pc from €143.4m to €127.3m. The main factor behind this was a drop of €10m from Government and co-funders going down from €93.8m to €83m.

The European Union was the largest single donor, providing €25m while the Irish government was the next largest, donating €23m.

The charity’s spend last year dropped by 12.5pc from €147.3m to €129m.

The figures show that two of the charity’s staff received salaries of between €90,000 and €100,000 and this included new CEO, Dominic McSorley.

Mr McSorley received a salary of €99,000 that represented a drop of €33,000 on the salary received by his predecessor, Tom Arnold. Mr McSorley also receives a 9pc contribution to a defined benefit scheme.

The Concern spokeswoman said that Mr McSorley doesn’t receive a bonus, or company car, health insurance, or any other benefits.

The accounts disclose that the charity’s nine key managers last year received an aggregate €675,469 – a drop on the €700,742 paid to the personnel in 2012.

The spokeswoman said: “Pay for all staff in Ireland has been frozen since 2008 and was cut (by 5pc to 10pc) for the majority of staff in 2009.

“Over the past five years, we have made over 500 staff redundant both overseas and here in Ireland and the average salary is now below 2006 levels.”

The report discloses one single donation of €350,000 from an anonymous group of donors that established a new school in Mogadishu, Somalia, that opened last November and is now educating hundreds of children.

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