All this publicity about charity chief top ups is damaging. I’m writing this letter to clarify where the money donated to Jack & Jill goes and to urge supporters to stick with us, especially for those Christmas donations which we depend on to fund our home nursing care model into 2014.
While the Jack & Jill Foundation receives €519,00 which is 19% of the €2.7 million we need every year from the HSE, it is the general public that funds Jack & Jill. The money you donate funds intensive home nursing care for children with life limiting conditions from birth to 4 years old, as well as end of life care for children sent home to die. Our home nursing care model, that has supported 1,700 children since 1997, is nine times less expensive than hospital care, thus saving the State and the taxpayer millions every year. So the Jack & Jill Foundation funds the HSE and not the other way around.
Having said that, we are very thankful for and depend on our HSE grant which covers the cost of our fundraising division in terms of accounts, HR, IT and our fundraising team, including my own salary as CEO and Chief Fundraiser. That means that money donated by our supporters goes directly to fund home nursing for the 300 children under our wing, including the salaries of 11 liaison nurses across the country and the funding of up to 64 hours per month per family.
As CEO, my salary is just under €90,000 today and I’ve been very open about that. For the first 6 years of running Jack & Jill I did not draw a salary for this busy role which is 7 days a week. I can assure you that I get no top up payments, no bonus, no pension. My salary is justified on the basis that since 1997 we have supported 1,700 children with home nursing care and raised €47 million privately while we’ve received only €4.5 million from the HSE. So my salary as a percentage of the fundraising I’ve done is less than 2%.
I also want to remind our supporters of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Jack & Jill home nursing care model. I am very proud to say that we have one of the best qualified teams of paediatric nurses in the country. They give practical advice on caring for the child, really listen to the family and make representations on their behalf to the government and HSE. Families call this service the “gift of time”. Time to do the normal things that we all take for granted, like sleeping, working, shopping or taking the healthy children to the park in the knowledge that their sick child is well cared for at home.
Furthermore, our end of life care model has no waiting list. Nursing is provided in the home within 24 hours, once the decision by the parents is made to take their child home to die. We listen to and help co-ordinate parents’ wishes at the time of the child’s death, liaising with expert counsellors. We cover 26 counties and are one of the only out of hour paediatric services providing hands on care in the home, funding up to 64 hours per month per family.
The bottom line is that without the generosity of the General Public we would not exist. We also rely on the generosity of our network of volunteers who give their time free and our corporate partners. We work hard for every cent we raise, and we make every cent count, with every €16 raised funding one hour of home nursing care.
On behalf of the families we support, we thank you for your continued support which keeps us going.
Jonathan Irwin, CEO and Founder, Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation