Tuesday 24 October 2017

How Jack and Jill Foundation was hit by charity scandal

Jonathan Irwin with plans for the Children's Hospital. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
Jonathan Irwin with plans for the Children's Hospital. Picture: GERRY MOONEY
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

THE BOSS of one of the country's leading children's charities has warned it is faced with running on reserve funding, due to a €200,000 shortfall in donations.

Jonathan Irwin, chief executive of the 'Jack and Jill Foundation', has revealed that the organisation is bracing itself for a possible €200,000 funding shortfall this year.

Mr Irwin said the fall-off is a direct effect of the financial scandals which rocked the charity sector in recent times.

The charity, which has provided care for 1,800 families since it was established in 1997, after the death of Mr Irwin's baby son Jack, expects to raise €2.5m by the end of the year.

However, this comes in €200,000 shorter than its annual target of €2.7m.

"We were going really very well fundraising this year, but the area that is down is the unsolicited donations. That is a direct result, as all other charities know, from the CRC and Rehab," Mr Irwin said. "Every time they appear in the media, it reminds the public once again of the dark side of charities. And it stops people reaching for their chequebooks."

"This is a direct result of the charity scandals which have eroded confidence and flattened donations across the board."

The charity provides home care for families whose children have brain damage or profound disabilities.

They also provide end of life care where necessary, and receive less than 20pc of their funding from the State.

Mr Irwin said that it is 
"never a charity to sit still", and is constantly "dreaming up ideas to cope with whatever the problems are as of that moment".

The charity is hoping to target the expected shortfall through fundraisers in the autumn.

Mr Irwin has called upon those responsible for the damage to the charity sector to take responsibility for the impact their negative actions have had.

"I think that we have all been tarred with the same brush, and I would like for some of the players in those scandals to say sorry," Mr Irwin added.

"They have done us all such damage."

Caroline Thomas, a nurse who works with the organisation, said that the charity requires just €16 to fund one hour of nursing care for a sick child.

"We are heavily reliant on donations," she added.

A study carried out earlier this year found that 54pc of charities believe last year's scandals will cause lasting "permanent damage".

Irish Independent

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