Pictured is Ronan O'Hare, Fred Boulton and Ken Enright of Birr Lions Club with Edel O'Brien Boyd and Derek Boyd of Birr SVP.
Birr Lions Club has dipped its toe in the waters of online crowdfunding by setting up a GoFundMe campaign for the benefit of Birr St Vincent de Paul.
The move, explains Lions Club President Ken Enright, was made necessary by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
“Many of the traditional fundraising activities and events that would normally take place in the run up to Christmas are not possible at the moment because of Covid-19. We can’t, for example, run our Lions Christmas Fast and on-street bucket collection this year.” The same applies to St Vincent Paul.
Edel O’Brien Boyd, Chairperson of Birr St Vincent de Paul, says that SVP would normally run a church gate collection and other events around this time of year but, because of the virus, these sorts of activities have become more difficult to arrange safely.
“The problems faced by many of the people we help have been made worse by Covid-19,” says Edel, “and, at the same time, the pandemic and the restrictions associated with it make it harder for us to help them, to raise funds and do our collections and so on. Although we are glad to say it now looks like we will be able to do our annual food collection this year.”
The response to the campaign has surpassed all expectations. Ken explains that the fundraiser had an initial target of €2,500 but that aim was achieved in less than a week. A new target of €4,000 looks like it will be hit shortly. “We always knew that we could rely on the generosity of the people of Birr - they are always very willing to contribute to help local charities - but we weren’t sure how the online campaign would work out compared to the face-to-face interaction in the run-up to Christmas when you’re selling a ticket or shaking a bucket in Emmet Square or outside Super-Valu or wherever. We are delighted at how successful the campaign has turned out.”
Edel explains that the goal of St Vincent de Paul is to fight poverty in all its forms through practical assistance to people in need. SVP is very well-regarded in Birr and people know the value of the work it does. She says that there is a big demand for help this Christmas and a lot of people are in need for various reasons. “The funds raised will enable SVP to help a great many people we might not have been able to help otherwise this year so we are really happy with the Lions Club’s online initiative.”
Ken says that it is likely that the Lions Club would have gone down the road of online crowdfunding anyway but the pandemic has speeded up the process. “Everyone knows that a lot of big charities have raised funds online for a long time now and, of course, we see many people running personal crowdfunding campaigns for different things but it is not something that small local charities like individual Lions Clubs have done very much of up to now. When Covid-19 is a thing of the past we will continue with our traditional fundraising because nothing beats the face-to-face interaction at local level but the online “Donate” button will definitely become of ever greater importance to charities as time goes on.”
Edel and Ken know that many Christmas shoppers like to give something to charity in the weeks before Christmas and hope that people from Birr and the surrounding area will consider contributing to the campaign.
All of the funds received from the GoFundMe will be used by Birr St Vincent de Paul for the benefit of people in need in the Birr area. Those who wish to donate can click this link 'GoFundMe'
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