Santa Bear appeal axed as CRC moves on from top-up row
The Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) has axed its flagship Santa Bear appeal as it seeks to move on from the scandal over salary top-ups.
The fundraising drive will not be run this Christmas, the charity's new CEO Stephanie Manahan told the Herald.
While the appeal has been "a critical fundraising tool", the CRC now wants to focus "on planning the future", she added.
The CRC confirmed last November that money donated to the organisation was used to top-up some executive salaries.
The funds were raised by its fundraising arm, a company called Friends and Supporters of the CRC.
The controversy erupted after it emerged that former chief executive Paul Kiely enjoyed a pay package of €242,000 including a 'top-up' of €136,000 from a fundraising arm of the charity, Friends and Supporters of the CRC.
Ironically, the CRC said at the time that this was funded through the lottery proceeds received by the Friends and Supporters organisation and not through other fundraising efforts like the Santa Bear Appeal.
In recent months, the charity has been focusing "on reviewing many different strands of the organisation and in particular the focus has been on getting the right structures in place for the CRC", Ms Manahan said.
"In particular, we are looking at the current fundraising structures and strategy and are reviewing this in light of the overall strategy for the organisation."
Ms Manahan said: "The Santa Bear appeal has been a critical fundraising tool for the CRC for many years and we are very proud of its tradition and symbolism in the hearts and minds of the many people who have supported it.
"In light of the current work being undertaken, we will not be running a Santa Bear appeal this year.
"We will focus for now on planning the future and will communicate a new fresh approach to fundraising for the CRC over the coming months."
She revealed the CRC is currently building a children's playground from donated funds, which is due to be opened shortly.
Earlier this year, the CRC interim administrator's report highlighted a sharp drop in public donations to the organisation since the controversy.
"For obvious reasons ... the CRC has experienced a sharp reduction in the funds being raised from its fundraising activities and, in 2014, staff previously assigned to fundraising were redeployed to other roles within the CRC," the report stated.
Funds raised through the Santa Bear appeal and flag days fell to €190,934 last year, from more than €404,500 in 2012.
When direct costs and overheads were taken into account, the decline resulted in a net loss of €13,406 from the activities.
Speaking last December, the mother of a child attending the CRC said staff and parents connected to the charity were horrified by the top-ups controversy.
Ciara Nagle, mother of 19-month-old toddler Charlie, said morale in the CRC was low.
She said their famous 'Santa Bears' have been sent back to the CRC as schools and shops have told them they can't sell them.