Society snaps up free coverage

Michelle Cooper-Galvin: doesn't charge the charity
Michelle Cooper-Galvin: doesn’t charge the charity

A PROFESSIONAL photographer from Killarney has said she was surprised by Irish Cancer Society claims that the charity spent over €5 million in 2014 helping to generate funds through advertising, marketing and promotion campaigns.

The society said it spent close on €3.5m on campaigns, €1.2m on campaign-related staff costs, in excess of €160,000 on PR overheads and close on €250,000 on support costs all of which were designed to bring in funds.

But photographer Michelle Cooper-Galvin said she and the paper she works for don’t charge the society any fee to highlight or promote annual fundraising events like Daffodil Day, coffee mornings or the successful Strictly Come Dancing event.

“I don’t get where they’re spending all this money,” she said.

“They majority of these fundraisers, no matter what they are, they are all done voluntary.”

She was talking to Joe Duffy on RTE’s Liveline during the fallout from the Irish Cancer Society’s decision to abolish hardship payments to patients struggling with the cost of living as they battle the disease. The charity has since reversed its decision to cut financial support for children battling cancer but no payments will be made to help adult patients.

Michelle, who works mainly with The Kerryman newspaper, said when any local member of the Irish Cancer Society contacts her about an event, she will organise to take photographs to appear in the paper without charge. She said many of her photographer colleagues would do likewise.

She said in the build up to Daffodil Day, for example, she would organise a photo-shoot for the launch of the event, take photographs at a follow-up coffee morning and take another page of pictures on Daffodil Day itself with no charge to the charity.

“There’s no cost for that. The Kerryman covers that. It’s all voluntary,” the photographer told Liveline.

“I can’t get this figure of €5 million or so, something stupid like that, for marketing,” she added.

Last year alone, the Irish Cancer Society gave out €1.8 million in payments to 2,500 cancer sufferers, 200 of whom were children. The charity said demand for financial help had spiralled and it had been forced to choose between the scheme and other free services it provides.