Charity Balls in Decline

Once considered an essential part of the social circuit and a source of much-needed funds for worthy causes, charity balls now appear to be in serious decline.

The end of the Celtic Tiger means that Irish charities are going to have to find different ways of raising money, according to one of Ireland’s best-known fundraisers.

Caroline Downey, the wife of MCD promoter Denis Desmond, said the ball circuit, which raised a huge amount of money for Irish charities, was “gone for the time being” and fundraisers would have to “go back to basics”.

Ms Downey sits on the board of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and is involved in organising the Childline concert, which this year raised €419,000 for the service.

Fundraisers now have to make up for the demise of the ISPCC ball, which ran for the past 20 years and raised an average of €200,000 annually. It has been cancelled because of the economic downturn.

The Tooth Fairy Ball, which Ms Downey also helped organise, was another feature of the social circuit and raised €600,000 for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation and the Chernobyl Children’s Project in 2008. It did not go ahead this year.

There were 17 balls in the run-up to Christmas 2006 and the level of fundraising reached its peak with the Ritz-Carlton inaugural ball in 2007 which raised €1 million for the ISPCC and the Rape Crisis Centre.

Ms Downey said charities would have to revert to traditional means to raise money, citing the smaller scale Childline Breakfast Together week in October as an example.

“We have to go back and try to find simpler ways and not rely on the same people every time. All charities have been hit very hard. We have got to come up with different ways of fundraising. Irish people are incredibly generous,” she said.

Ms Downey said the much-maligned developers were instrumental in the success of so many fundraising balls during the years of the Celtic Tiger.

“Whatever people say about the builders, and all the backbiting that has gone on about it, they were strongly instrumental in us making that quantity of money. They really, really gave huge amounts of money, not just to me, but to loads of other charities. They really did and that is going to be lost as well.”

Original source