‘Charity donations down 40% after CRC scandal’

Some of the country’s leading charities claim donations have fallen by as much as 40% because of public fears about where the money might end up as a result of the top-up scandal at Central Remedial Clinic.

Many of the charities told the Irish Examiner they had noticed a significant fall in donations and the Simon Community said it was fearful about the level of service it would be able to offer its clients throughout the year.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday said he is “seeking expressions of interest” from suitably-qualified persons for membership of the board of the Charities Regulatory Authority.

The authority, which is hoped to be up and running within weeks, will be responsible for the setting up and maintenance of a public register of charities.

The Wheel, a national network representing 930 charities, has called on the minister to urgently publish a “detailed timeline and implementation plan” for the authority’s set up.

Oxfam Ireland told the Irish Examiner that its Christmas campaign was 41% down on last year, and donations to its 51 shops had also dropped. Focus Ireland said it was down 30% on Christmas fundraising while aid agency Trocaire has seen drops of 25% in fundraising.

The Simon Community’s Helen McCormack said its “too early” for them to see to what extent fundraising was affected since the CRC revelations, but they are “becoming increasingly worried for the future”.

The ISPCC said its Christmas donations were down 20% and that it had sent letters to donors outlining how the money is spent. Before Christmas, St Vincent de Paul reported drops in donations of up to 20%, but a last-minute appeal for food and toys meant its overall fundraising goals only fell by 10%. Of the bigger charities, Goal stood out as its spokesman said donations over the Christmas period “were quite high”.

Some of the charities believed longtime donors are still giving generously. Brothers of Charity, which works in the disability sector, said “we have not noticed any material change as yet”.

The Wheel’s survey of 150 charities found 97% believed the CRC affair had damaged public trust in charities.

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