The CEO of Irish Autism Action said that there was no budget written for the charity for 2016.
Brian Murnane, the charity’s CEO, also said the organisation is working on a cashflow basis.
The Irish charity, once fronted by Boyzone star Keith Duffy, has just announced a cutback to its outreach services. As of today, only two families in the entire country are in receipt of these services.
This news was greeted by outrage from parents of children who have autism, with some mothers taking to social media to air their complaints about the organisation in general.
Mr Murnane said: “There was no budget actually written for 2016, as a matter of fact.
“And you know budgeting is kind of a hazardous occupation in a charity, simply because you’re at the mercy of fundraised income, which had fallen by 30% in each of the prior two years.
“So were we expecting the same thing to happen again? We’re actually operating on a cashflow budget basis at the moment, as opposed to a more formal [one].”
He was speaking after a meeting held by ‘Irish Autism Mammys’ in Dublin yesterday afternoon.
The meeting was organised by parents of children on the autism spectrum to address concerns about the lack of support they say they receive from the charity.
In the meeting, Mr Murnane was reported to have said that the €8m that Keith Duffy raised for the charity, which he stepped down from as patron last year, cost €7m to raise.
“That was a semi-flippant comment. The point that I was trying to make was that was a gross revenue figure and I would also say an approximate figure, and that’s also a figure that’s been raised over more than 10 years. But it is a gross figure. What the true net figure is, is actually more difficult to estimate,” he said.
When asked if the charity was keeping track of the figure in their annual accounts, Mr Murnane said the IAA was. “Yeah at an aggregated level, yes, but then again a lot of the costs from those events [charity balls and golf tournaments] are overhead costs and the allocation assumption that you take can vary from one regime to the next. We do keep records of that,” he answered.
The CEO of IAA was then asked for a breakdown of the related fundraising efforts of the charity.
“I’d be curious to know why you’d even want a breakdown over fundraising over the last 10 years,” he answered.
In relation to the charity cutting back on its outreach services, one of several services it provides to members of the public affected by autism, Mr Murnane said the decision was influenced by the HSE.
“The biggest problem in IAA has been that the costs that’s paid to those people implementing the [outreach service] plan, let’s call them tutors just to make it easy.
“The money that’s paid to those tutors is funded by the HSE. The HSE gives us €20 [per hour] for that person.
“The person with the right skills to deliver the plan is not available for €20 per hour gross, so we end up grossing up that salary to approximately €28 per hour,” he said.
“So the choice was you either continue with that, run out of money and serve nobody, sorry guys we’re bankrupt or you operate within a funding limit you can manage,” he added.
Mr Murnane also admitted that the helpline is underresourced, despite how it is advertised.
“We do imply that it’s Monday to Friday, nine-to-five but it is not manned nine-to-five because the person who handles it is doing other things in support of fundraising initiatives or assisting in advocacy or meeting the Taoiseach or things like that. You get the answering machine and we try to call you back,” he said.
Some mothers of autistic children, who attended yesterday’s meeting, said they have phoned the helpline on numerous occasions but have never been called back.
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