Ireland’s largest aid agency, Concern Worldwide reached a record number of people across its development and humanitarian response programmes last year, a reflection of the growing level of global humanitarian need and the organisation’s increasing focus on supporting people living in extreme poverty.
Despite operating in a difficult fundraising environment, Concern Worldwide’s annual income and expenditure reached its highest ever level in 2016, raising €183.5 million last year, according to financial statements revealed in its 2016 annual report.
This enabled the organisation to expand the scope and depth of its work to provide essential support to the poorest people living in some of the world’s most volatile and hard to reach places.
Concern’s latest annual report - available now on its website - reveals that the organisation helped 22 million people in 27 of the world’s poorest countries and responded to 45 global emergencies in 25 countries, helping over 4.6 million people.
Speaking at the aid agency’s AGM at its head offices in Dublin on Saturday, CEO Dominic MacSorley said the increased amount of work carried out by the organisation was a reflection of the rising level of global humanitarian need in 2016, and the public’s generosity in responding to the suffering of those overseas. He praised the people of Ireland and the Irish Government, who together generated around €51 million of Concern’s overall income:
“Critical to the success of Concern last year was the consistent and generous support of the public and the Irish Government. The €51 million generated by the Irish public and the Irish Government, is testament to the trust and confidence they have in Concern. I want to thank them for their unfailing commitment and compassion for people living in extreme poverty,” he said.
Mr MacSorley, who has worked with Concern for 35 years, and was paid a salary of €99,740 in 2016, also pointed to the fact that Concern received the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award at the Carmichael Centre Good Governance Awards in October last year and said it was a testament to Concern’s staff, Board and volunteers.
“Recent years have been somewhat difficult for the charity sector in Ireland and the UK. As an organisation, we understand the crucial importance of maintaining the highest standards of accountability and transparency as we deliver our programmes across some of the world’s poorest countries. The €183.5 million raised last year is a record in Concern’s 49-year history and we will continue to work even harder to ensure we retain this valuable support,” Mr MacSorley said.
Major emergencies included South Sudan and the Syrian crisis-where Concern supported over 1,100,000 people across Turkey, Lebanon and within Syria, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, where it supported 10,000 people with essential household and hygiene items and widespread drought in Ethiopia, where it treated 200,000 children and adults for malnutrition. These emergencies contributed to the significant increase in Concern’s 2016 income and expenditure.
Aside from public donations, Concern received a total of €147 million from governments and co-funders. Significant donors included the Irish Government, which donated €24.2 million through Irish Aid, the British Government (€22.6 million), the US Government (€25.1 million) and the European Union (€28.6 million).
Mr MacSorley emphasised that while funding had increased for aid agencies in 2016, it did not match the scale of an increase in humanitarian need, with conflict becoming the ‘driving factor’ in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises that escalated in 2016.
“Syria is the perhaps the most intensely fought war in the world but conflict has continued unabated in other regions such as Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia. In several of these contexts, the impact of conflict on food security has become so severe that the world is now facing an enormous humanitarian crisis with famine declared in South Sudan and the threat of imminent famine in three other regions. This, coupled with the increase of climactic related humanitarian crises especially across East Africa, shows that the need for agencies like Concern is greater now than ever.”
Looking ahead to Concern’s 50th anniversary next year, Mr MacSorley added:
“Over the years since 1968, Concern has evolved into an effective world-renowned player in the fight against extreme poverty. Next year we plan to mark this by thanking everyone who has made this possible, highlighting the impact of donations and demonstrating to the public that despite the challenges, aid does work.”