March 27, 2014

#NoMakeUpSelfie - your questions answered

The Irish Cancer Society was not involved in starting the #NoMakeUpSelfie trend, but the response has been phenomenal and we would like to extend our appreciation to all those who have donated with such incredible generosity.

Many people have asked us questions about #NoMakeUpSelfie, how much money has been donated to us, where it will be invested, and how this unprecedented global support will help. Here we answer those questions.

How much has #NoMakeUpSelfie raised for the Irish Cancer Society?

Through #NoMakeUpSelfies, we have received worldwide support from Irish people and their friends donating from all corners of the world — from every continent. There were more than 2,600 donations from outside Ireland through our website over the past week. As of Wednesday March 26 the total raised so far is over €1,000,000.

Where is the money going?

We need to raise around €20m every year to fund our cancer prevention activity, our free cancer services, our research, and our advocacy campaigns. Since 2008 we have launched several new programmes, including our volunteer driving service Care to Drive, our Daffodil Centres (there are now 11 such Centres located at hospitals all around Ireland) and our Collaborative Cancer Research Centres (CCRC), which we launched last year.

The funds raised through #NoMakeUpSelfie will go towards funding free services to breast cancer patients as well as to the first of our Collaborative Cancer Research Centres, a major breast cancer collaborative research initiative called BREAST-PREDICT. We will invest €7.5m in this Centre over the next five years, and the aim of the Centre is to determine how best to treat individual breast cancer patients, according to the particular characteristics of their own cancer.

As the first of five collaborative cancer research centres, BREAST-PREDICT brings together a strong team of expert Irish researchers, including most of Ireland’s leading names in breast cancer research. The Director of BREAST-PREDICT is Professor William Gallagher, an Associate Professor of Cancer Biology in the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular & Biomedical Research.

What will BREAST-PREDICT try to achieve?

BREAST- PREDICT is a country wide collaboration of experts in the areas of breast cancer research. It brings together researchers from six leading academic institutions in Ireland to develop truly personalised treatment approaches for women in Ireland and worldwide who get a breast cancer diagnosis, so they can get the best possible chance at a long and healthy life. Professor Gallagher and his team will collect and study information such as tumour samples from practically every breast cancer patient in the country in a unique five-year study.

The research team will examine the underlying processes that take place in this disease which determine, for instance, whether patients respond to a particular drug, how their cancers change over time while they are being treated, and whether drugs that they may have been taking prior to their diagnosis have any effect on the outcome of their cancer treatment.

BREAST-PREDICT will also test ways to find new treatment strategies, either by using existing drugs for the correct patient or by identifying new combinations of drugs that will help patients to beat their disease more effectively. It will also develop new tools for improved prediction of patient outcome and response to treatment.

Where is it located?

BREAST-PREDICT is not a physical centre. It involves six leading academic centres around Ireland with expert computational and laboratory scientists, as well as a nationwide cancer-focused clinical trials group. It is a truly countrywide effort to improve the lives of Irish breast cancer patients. For further information about BREAST-PREDICT click here.

How can supporters be assured that funds are being managed properly?

The Society is a company limited by guarantee and is subject to the full rigors of Company Law. The work of the Society is overseen by our Board (who all serve as volunteers). Our accounts are freely available to the public on our website, are audited annually by an external auditor (currently Deloitte & Touche), and are filed in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP – international accounting best practice for charities). The Society has also called for the appointment of a charity regulator and looks forward to operating within a regulated industry.

The Irish Cancer Society is greatly appreciative of the on-going support of our thousands of loyal supporters across the country. We are committed to being open with our donors and with the public and we believe this is more important than ever. Our annual reports can be viewed on our website here.

How much is spent directly on services and how much is spent on administration?

78c of every euro donated to the Society is spent directly on delivering our services; 19c is invested in Fundraising which is necessary to raise the €20m we need each year to deliver our cancer services, research and advocacy and 3c is spent on governance and administration – necessary activities which make these services possible. Our accounts are public and are available to view on our website.

Why is the CEO’s salary so high?

The CEO, John McCormack, is paid €145,000. While this is indeed a significant amount it needs to be taken in context. The Society generates an annual income of roughly €20m, and employs nearly 150 people, and if it was a commercial organisation the salary would be substantially higher. When it is compared to public service salaries, it is around the norm.

However, leaving that aside, the Society has high standards of professionalism and to run an organisation of the Society’s size, delivering on critical targets and doing so at the highest standards including those of legislation, governance and accountability is a significant responsibility – you have to pay for that.

Furthermore, as we all know, Ireland has been going through one of the worst periods in its economic history over the past number of years. During these turbulent times, both economic and social, the Irish Cancer Society, under the leadership of the CEO, has worked to maintain levels of income at the Society and keep them steady – at a time when many organisations are experiencing reduced income levels. During this time the Society has also managed to increase services including Care to Drive, Daffodil Centres, Research and Financial Aid [financial aid is currently running at about €1 million per annum] through careful cost management and use of resources.

How about top-ups?

There are no top-ups. The Irish Cancer Society is an independent charity, funded almost 100 per cent by donations from the public and from fundraising events, such as Daffodil Day, which takes place this Friday, March 28th. We are not funded by the Government. We collaborate with the government on two projects – the National Smokers’ Quitline and the Travel2Care fund. This accounts for less than 5% of our income.

Unlike other charities featured in the news over recent months, we are not a section 38 organisation. As an independent charity we are completely dependent on the goodwill of the public – people like you – to raise more than 95% of our income. Without this support we could not continue to fund free nationwide information, support and care services, research and advocacy.