Over 100 representatives of community, voluntary, non profit and sporting organisations attended a seminar held by Wexford Local Development (WLD) last night (Thursday 28th April) in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy. The large attendance included community representatives from all parts of Co. Wexford, ranging from recently established groups to those who have been successfully developing their communities for many years. The people attending this seminar were interested in exploring how they can use fundraising opportunities to improve their own local communities.
Prior to the seminar Wexford Local Development arranged a networking event which allowed community representatives to meet with financial organisations to discuss how to access a range of loans to help their organisations to develop. This proved worthwhile and gave many communities the opportunity to outline their development plans in an informal setting before considering making formal applications for loans.
The seminar was opened by Brian Kehoe, Chief Executive of Wexford Local Development, who said WLD recognised that sufficient finance was the lifeblood of any voluntary organisation and that this seminar was organised to help community groups from throughout Co. Wexford explore new and imaginative ways of fundraising.
Wexford Local Development invited four expert guest speakers to address the seminar and each of them challenged the audience in different ways to consider how important finance is to their organisations.
John Everett is a renowned authority on the development of not for profit organisations and has supported some of the most high profile organisations in both Ireland and the United States. He gave a practical talk on the governance and financing of organisations and gave many great examples of how successful fundraising groups look beyond the norm when planning their fundraising campaigns.
Clann Credo are an Irish based charity who use “social finance” as a form of development loan to assist the growth and development of communities throughout Ireland. Jennifer Hennessy is a Social Finance Executive with Clann Credo. She gave a presentation on the work of Clann Credo and explained how organisations in Co. Wexford can access developmental finance through them. Jennifer also told of some of the many developments in Co. Wexford which Clann Credo have supported over the past number of years.
Philip Wallace, from Duncannon Village Renewal, spoke from the perspective of a local community group and explained how they have fundraised over the past number of years. Duncannon Village Renewal was founded in 2012 and since then have become one of the most active groups in the South East region for fundraising in their local community. Philip gave examples of many of their more successful fundraising ventures and told many of the lessons his group learned. He gave a lot of practical advice which was appreciated by the audience.
The final speaker was Michael Kelly, a prominent social entrepreneur from Waterford. Michael was a food growing hobbyist who founded GIY (Grow It Yourself) in 2008 as a social enterprise which aimed to encourage people to grow some of their own food. Michael outlined the growth of GIY since its foundation and explained that they currently have 9 members of staff and support 5,500 food growing projects in Ireland and Britain. Michael has recently finalised a fundraising campaign to raise €1.4 million to build a new headquarters for the GIY movement, GIY-HQ, which will open later in 2016 in Waterford. Much of this finance was raised through “crowdfunding” campaigns and Michael explained not only what crowdfunding is but also the successes and failures he experienced along the way. Michael’s ambition and vision inspired many of the audience to look at the potential of their own communities.
The formal presentations were followed by a questions and answers session which allowed the audience members to engage with the speakers and to gain more insight into their considerable and varied fundraising experiences.
Wexford Local Development believes that the success of last night’s event will inspire many communities throughout Co. Wexford to reassess their fundraising campaigns and to explore new ways of raising finance. The large attendance of over 100 community representatives shows that community groups from throughout the county have a strong level of interest in improving their own fundraising efforts. One of the invited speakers, Philip Wallace, reminded everyone that “anyone raising funds for a community is in a very crowded market and we have to keep trying new things.”
Wexford Local Development, who organised last night’s seminar, provide a broad range of supports to community organisations throughout Co. Wexford through many of their innovative programmes. The LEADER programme provides developmental grant aid and training supports to community organisations and will shortly be re-opening for new applications. SICAP provides developmental supports and helps community organisations to develop their own capacity to improve their communities. Tus and the Rural Social Scheme provide workers to assist community organisations. Further information about any of these community supports can be obtained by contacting Wexford Local Development on 053-9155800