Pictured: Supporters gathered in Belfast from 22 cities around the globe for The Worldwide Ireland Funds Annual Conference
The Worldwide Ireland Funds Annual Conference took place in Northern Ireland in June for first time in almost 40 years, signalling the organisation’s ongoing commitment to the Peace Process.
Over 120 philanthropists from around the world gathered in Belfast in June to attend the Annual Conference of The Worldwide Ireland Funds. This was the first time in almost four decades that the event took place in its entirety in Northern Ireland.
Delegates travelled from 22 cities in nine countries including the US, Australia, Singapore and China. All in attendance are committed philanthropists who are already supporting the charity sector in Ireland, North and South.
Proceedings commenced at a welcome dinner hosted by the secretary of state in Hillsborough Castle, with a piano performance by Claire Bowes who was blinded by the Omagh bombing in 1998.
Commenting, Kieran McLoughlin, president and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, said: “Though the Peace Process has slipped from the radar of many, our coming here represents our commitment to doing our bit to bringing it to a successful conclusion.
So far in 2014, the Funds have distributed $16m in grants across the island of Ireland.”
“The Peace Process is just that, a process not an event and all of us − governments, civic society and philanthropists − must remain focused on achieving a normalised society in Northern Ireland.”
In addition to announcing the winners of The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition, the Funds also announced a gift of $1m to Co-Operation Ireland to support its work, especially in hard to reach communities. This is part of the $16m that the Funds have distributed in grants across the island of Ireland so far in 2014.
Donors and supporters visited a sample of the many projects assisted by The Worldwide Ireland Funds in Northern Ireland. These included: the 174 Trust, Ardoyne Holycross Boxing Club, Cinemagic, Integrated Education Northern Ireland, the Linen Hall Library, Play Resource, Queen’s University Belfast, SOS Bus Northern Ireland, The Lyric Theatre, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland and Young Social Innovators.
Later, they dined as guests of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister at Stormont Castle.
On Friday June 20th, The Worldwide Ireland Funds Plenary Session discussed the Funds’ priorities and how its donors could best meet ongoing needs in Ireland North and South.
On Saturday, delegates were taken on a guided tour of Antrim’s north coast where they visited the Giant’s Causeway and the Corrymeela Community. That evening there was Gala Dinner held in the Titanic Centre at which The American Ireland Fund AWB Vincent Literary Award was presented to celebrated poet, Leontia Flynn including a €25,000 bursary.
The Conference concluded with a dinner at Mount Stewart House & Gardens, voted one of the top 10 gardens in the world.
The Worldwide Ireland Funds is a philanthropic network across 12 countries that has raised over $480m for worthy causes in Ireland and Irish causes around the world. It is the largest network of friends of Ireland dedicated to supporting programmes of peace and reconciliation, arts and culture, education and community development.
Founded in 1976, The Worldwide Ireland Funds have benefited over 3,000 organisations. Funds raised are contributed by private philanthropists and organisations.
In response to the severe downturn in the Irish economy, The Worldwide Ireland Funds launched the Promising Ireland Campaign in 2009 to raise $100m for charities experiencing an increased demand for their services at a time of a major reduction in resources. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of donors, the initial goal has been exceeded and the target has been doubled to now raise $200m. As a result, one third of the Funds’ total earnings since foundation have been raised during the five years of the campaign. Over 650 outstanding projects and organisations have received support from the Promising Ireland Campaign.
The largest chapter, The American Ireland Fund, holds a four-star rating from Charity Navigator in recognition of efficiency, sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency.
For more information on the work of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, visit the website.
This article was originally published in the Business & Finance Corporate Giving 50 2014. A special report on some of Ireland’s top CSR-minded companies.