How Not To Organise A Fundraising Event

I went to Letterkenny on Saturday afternoon for the ‘go walkies’ fundraiser for guide dogs. The idea is simple; people go for a short walk, and are encouraged to bring family members and dogs if they want. The events took place over the last few weekends around Ireland. Most people love walking and do it all the time, so you’d imagine it would be a popular, easy way to raise money. That wasn’t the case in Letterkenny. Myself, O.J and the four other people I brought were the only people there!

I don’t want to go into too much detail about this event because I didn’t organise it. The people who did probably did their best on the day, and they were very friendly and appreciated the fact that I travelled 40 minutes with my family and my guide dog. . On the other hand, I didn’t want to not write about it and pretend it didn’t happen. That wouldn’t have been right either, and I hope people can learn from what went wrong.
The only input I had was to volunteer to assist with any newspaper articles or local radio interviews if needed. They never happened and there was almost no publicity of the event. Even if there was, I think é15 per person was too expensive. People don’t have much money, and even if they did, I think charging that just to do a walk wasn’t fair. I think people really need to be more considerate when organising fundraising events these days.

I want to organise a fundraiser for Irish guide dogs before O.J retires. I’d love something a bit different, but haven’t come up with an idea I’m happy with yet. I might consider organising a ‘go walkies’ event in my local town next year. It will be cheaper, and I guarantee there’ll be lots of people there to walk, with or without their dogs.



I haven’t posted here in a while, and the blog died for a couple of days for no logical reason, so appologies to anyone who missed it! Thanks to the people who wondered if we were Okay and where we’d disappeared to.

More tragic and important than my blog dying, was the death of Ireland’s most popular radio broadcaster Gerry Ryan yesterday. I still can’t really believe it. Gerry presented a talk show from 9-12 every weekday morning on RTE 2fm for 22 years, and he will be a great loss to our country. I didn’t listen to him much, but when you did, it was clear that he was tallented, intelligent, humourous and knew how to connect with his audience. He could move from a serious topic to a rediculous one in seconds, and he wasn’t afraid to be contravertial and give his opinion. Like him or hate him, there’s a lot to be said for an honest broadcaster. Listening to the tributes on radio in the last 24 hours, the texts and calls from listeners, and the feature on last night’s late late show was heartbreaking. He often spoke about his family, in particular his five children who he adored, so I’m sure its very difficult for them.
I was interviewed on a local radio station last week (not my finest moment on radio) and one of the girls in work joked yesterday that the manager would have me on with Gerry Ryan next. Unfortunately I was never lucky enough to meet him, but apparently he was very generous and helpful to young broadcasters. I would have loved to have gotten some advice from someone as good at their job as he was.
RIP Gerry.

O’J has been busy recently, going to work, radio stations, a fundraising concert for the station I work in, and a book launch in the local primary school. I bought him a furminator, which if you haven’t used one before is the best grooming tool for a dog like O.J. Its a comb that removes all the dead hair under the top coat, hair that you couldn’t remove as quickly with an ordinary comb. I like it almost as much as the brand new Josh Ritter album! Its brilliant!

My mum is running another second-hand shop in our town, starting in a couple of weeks. She had hoped to start it during shades week, but better late than never. She’s running it for three or four weeks depending on how well it goes, and the money raised will be split between four charities, which all mean something to us and our family: Irish guide dogs, the MS society, a local Altzheimer’s unit and suicide aware.I’ll let everyone know how well it does.

Go, jump

Darragh Doyle is jumping out of a plane next weekend, from a height of 13,000 ft at a speed of 130mph. He is doing the tandem skydive to raise awareness for a charity called
a Dublin based voluntary organisation that has been befriending older people living alone in Dublin since 1974. Carelocal recruits, trains and matches volunteers with an older person living in their area. Following the initial introduction, the volunteer then visits the older person in their home over a year and real and lasting friendships are formed.

Why he is doing it:
“I’m primarily doing it because people want to see me jumping out of a plane.
I’m doing it to help raise awareness for Carelocal and all the other charities that don’t have huge marketing or advertising budgets; I’m doing it because I was asked and most of all I’m doing it because I’ve never got the opportunity before and it will be fun.”

if you would like to donate some money you can do it at

Keep an eye on
Darragh’s blog
To see how he gets on.

Fair play Darragh. You’re a brave man! I don’t think I’d do it for all the money in the world, and I don’t even have to look down from the sky and see how scarey it is.

If you want to hear more from Darragh, check out
view from the quad
A great podcast blog, where Cian and Liz have a chat with the man himself.

counting cash

I’ve spent all afternoon sorting coins into piles, counting them and putting them into bank bags, and yes it really is as boring as it sounds. After a while all the coins were starting to feel the same and I couldn’t help thinking how dirty money is. Of course I still love money!

We did the guide dog church gate collection this weekend, and OJ was so good during the whole thing. The 6 PM mass in town last night was fine, but the next one in a different chapel at 7.30 wasn’t so pleasant. It rained, then hail stoned, and by the end we were absolutely soaked and really cold. A lot of people didn’t stop to give us money, and I couldn’t blame them really. A man gave me some money and then came back to offer me his umbrella. My dad and I had intended going home when mass began, but some clown parked their car right across the gate and blocked ours in. We had to stand in the porch, dripping wet, listening to a group of boys talking loudly. I mean I don’t go to mass too often, but what’s the point in going just to stand in the porch and sware and talk like your on a night out. It was embarrassing.

I helped to collect at 3 of the 4 masses today, and people were very friendly and generous. You always get the ones who don’t give anything or have no money, and that’s fair enough, but the funniest are those who go around the long way to avoid walking past the buckets. OJ got lots of pets so that kept him happy. He had a lot of standing and jumping in and out of the car to do within three hours, but it didn’t bother him.

I counted most of the money myself, apart from when Jack and his friend helped for half an hour. Jack asked what the money was for, and when I said guide dogs he said “I’d love to be a guide dog!”
I’m not sure of the exact total figure yet, but we collected at least 1,900 euros this weekend. It was a lot more than I expected, the most we’ve ever collected and I’m delighted. Its nice to have some guide dogs in the local area, as people can see where the money goes. People are very generous with their time and money, and I really appreciate it.

good deeds for the weekend

I’m having my dinner very soon, and then I’m starting the Trocaire 24 hour fast. I’ve been doing it almost every year since first year of secondary school. I don’t raise loads of money, but every little helps right?
The fast is a bit pointless though. I don’t eat for a day, and feel grand until a few hours before I finish, when I get really hungry. I know that when the 24 hours are up I can eat as much as I want. I’m sure that I’m going to get food very easily, and I don’t have to think about starving myself for another year. It does make you think about how much we take for granted though, and maybe that’s the point.

The annual church gate collection for guide dogs takes place in Donegal this weekend. Myself and my parents have organised it in our town for the last few years. The area has three chapels, and altogether there are two masses on Saturday evening and 4 on Sunday morning. The chapels have one, three and five gates, so someone stands at each gate with a bucket, looking very bored and cold, and saying “thank you” everytime somebody throws their coins (or notes if your very lucky) into it.
I feel like a bit of a hipicrit because I don’t always go to mass, but it always raises over a grand, and every penny counts when your training a guide dog. My family, friends and my parent’s friends are very generous to volunteer their time, and there could be ten to fifteen people helping out each year. I will probably collect at most of the masses as I can bring OJ with me and people can’t resist giving a euro or two when they see his pleading puppydog eyes!
I’ll be spending sunday afternoon and evening eating and counting money!

Currently listening to: the Fleet Foxes – ragged wood. I love their album so much!


I’ve been trying to come up with a good fundraising idea for Irish guide dogs for the blind for ages, but I’m not getting very far, mostly because I’m too fussy, and I want something unique.

It costs approximately 38,000 euros to train and support each guide dog over its lifetime. As well as training guide dogs, the centre of excellence in Cork trains assistance dogs for children with autism, and provides mobility and daily living skills to adults and children. Clients who stay at the centre for any of these courses pay just 10 Euros a week for their own room, breakfast lunch and dinner, laundry service and entertainment a few evenings a week. There is a very homely atmosphere, which makes it much easier to adjust to your new surroundings and to do the work you are there to do.
Obviously all this costs a lot of money. The government only fund about 15% of this, and the rest is raised through donations, collections and hard work from fundraisers and volunteers.

I have helped out in church gate and supermarket collections to raise money, but I hate collecting money this way. I’d rather do something fun, where people feel they are getting something for the money they give. So far I have raised over 8,000 euros by doing a cycle for Irish guide dogs in 2003, and organising a second hand shop when I qualified with O J in 2007. My family and local people have always been very supportive and generous, and they say they feel even more proud to help when they see people working with guide dogs in their home town. Local guide dog owners collect during shades week and flag day every year, and sell calendars and Christmas cards in the supermarket. While all these raise a lot of money, it’s all a bit repetitive.

I want to organise a special fundraiser in 2009. I know I could do something like a night at the races, or bowling or a sponsored event. I thought of a head shave, where people who volunteer to have their head shaved have it done by me. Would you let a blind person shave your head?
It shouldn’t matter what the event is, as long as it does what it’s supposed to – raises money. However I want to do something really special, that I’ll enjoy organising and being a part of. Something that will appeal to a wider variety of people, not just those family, friends and local people who get involved religiously every time there is a fundraiser in our town.

I am very passionate about music, and my ideal fundraiser would be a music event, particularly a gig from musicians I really like. This may sound selfish, but I want something that I will enjoy planning, I know would sell well and fans of the particular band, and who are the people supporting the charity would enjoy. I have made contact with some people, but an event like this isn’t possible to organise at the moment. They were very nice about it, and I fully appreciate their busy schedules and the fact that there are hundreds of deserving charities in the country, who desperately need funding.

I know many musicians who do annual charity gigs which raise vital funds for charity. I wonder do enough bands do this. Could people in the media be doing more charity work, or do they do enough already? Surely doing a charity gig once in a while isn’t impossible if your job involves attracting an audience anyway? You are sure to sell out a particular venue and raise a certain amount of money, and it creates awareness about the particular charity.

Ok so maybe, for me anyway the gig idea is a bit ambitious. I’m just an ordinary music fan with a guide dog. I’ve never organised anything like this in my life. I’m not close friends with any musicians who I could persuade to do a gig for charity, and I sincerely doubt that any musician I admire would agree to do a gig just because I ask them. I like challenges though, and it was worth a try. Maybe I’ll organise something more simple, and keep the dream of my ideal charity event alive for another while. Who knows, someday it might actually come true!

Post me a comment if you have any fun ideas.