The Ireland Funds Australia held its first ever major Virtual Fundraiser on Friday 13 November 2020.
Since March 2020, like every other chapter of The Ireland Funds around the world, we have been unable to host any in-person events, our main way of fundraising to support projects of impact across Ireland and Australia.
So, we adapted. Building on the success of our Young Leaders’ virtual events throughout the year, including the first ever remote Global 5K, and the fabulous Virtual Conference in June, we decided to hold our very own Virtual Fundraising event.
Table Captains and their guests gathered safely in their homes to watch our virtual event broadcast from our Sydney studio via their TVs or laptops. We also sent out hampers in advance of the night, full of Irish goodies thanks to Taste Ireland and Guinness, Baileys and more thanks to Diageo.
From homes, private dining areas in restaurants and even parks across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane our guests dialled in from 7pm for our Pre Party which kicked off with a trip down memory lane. We showcased photos from our events and conferences over the years including many dignitaries, gave a wrap up of the 2020 Remote Global 5k and highlighted the literary greatness born in Ireland with a montage of the winners of The Ireland Funds Literary Awards, the Arts being an important area we have supported since our inception.
From 7.30pm our Main Event began with Paul Martell, our fabulous and funny MC who navigated the uncharted waters of a live virtual event, including live crosses to our Table Captains.
We received very special messages of support from Liam Neeson and Ireland’s Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Breandán Ó Caollaí. Both of these VIPs acknowledged how important the work of the Fund continues to be in these challenging times, and how much the people of Ireland need our ongoing assistance.
Our Chairman, Yvonne Le Bas welcomed everyone and gave an update on the work of The Ireland Funds here in Australia; acknowledging how extremely hard this pandemic has been on the fundraising capabilities of the Fund and most importantly on the projects we support, many of whom have been very severely impacted, but have shown resilience, innovation and determination to keep supporting those in need. Yvonne was so very pleased that thanks to the help of our very generous supporters, we still managed to have a Grant Round in June of almost $250,000 to support 18 projects in Ireland and Australia and some of these funds were even released earlier than June to give direct impact on the ground where needed.
We also heard from two of our wonderful Board Members, Patrick Tuttle and Ray Wilson who provided an update on projects that are very dear to them and how those projects are coping during the pandemic.
Former lead singer of INXS and Grammy-nominated song-writer Ciaran Gribbin then kicked off our After Party with some fabulous entertainment, taking us all across Ireland with his song choices, even joined by Teresa for a duet live on stage!
Thank you to everyone who bid in our auction and congratulations to the highest bidders! A huge thank you as well to everyone who pledged donations on the night. So far we have managed to raise more than $70,000 and counting.
Our event wouldn’t have been possible with our sponsors, thank you to Australian Radio Network, HT&E, Coolmore, Charles Curran AC, Guinness, Diageo, Glen Dimplex Australia, Trinity College, Ferrycarrig, Olio, Taste Ireland and Mr Alan Joyce AC.
From the bottom of our hearts we thank our virtual table captains, sponsors and supporters for everything they do, it is because of their ongoing generosity that we are able to continue our vital work.
COVID-19 has brought many challenges and we can only hope to continue to learn and adapt.
Here’s to 2021, where we hope that we can see our supporters in person at our events once more.
Very best wishes,
The Ireland Funds Australia