Electricaid Minutes September 2013


        James Foley                 Pauline Holland        Tina Pittock             Pearse Crilly

Mick O’Connor              Finola O’Donnell      Fiona Corr               John Kelly

Anthony LeCourriard      Des Doherty            Peter Kelly               Anne Hogan


Apologies:     Patricia Wade, Niamh O’Neill, Deirdre Arthur, Denis Blanch, Éadaoin Smith and Paul Cox.


 Item  Description Action by
 Presentation/Update by Hillary Brown, founder of HOW (Helping Orphans Worldwide) and Kerri Galligan, HOW Volunteer Manager. 
  • John Kelly welcomed Hillary Brown, founder of HOW (Helping Orphans Worldwide) and Kerri Galligan, HOW Volunteer Manager.  As Hillary Brown was unwell, Kerri Gavigan gave an update on the work of HOW from its inception, ten years ago in Eastern Europe, to its current work with orphans in Vietnam.

  • While HOW is based in Ireland and America, most of the presentation was about their work in Vietnam where they work to improve the lives of needy children.

  • Funding given by ElectricAid last year for the Lotus Shelter was acknowledged with thanks.   Earlier this year HOW began searching for an orphanage receiving no help.   This led them to kids on the street and a State school run by Catholic nuns.   Because these children have no birth certificates they are not allowed attend this school.

  • HOW, which is DEBRA associated, is currently working on various projects in Vietnam, as follows:

ü  All HOW local volunteers are from “Free Hugs Vietnam”.

ü  The Starfish Children Programme helps orphaned and impoverished children in need of severe medical attention, surgery and medication.   Training days are provided for doctors, nurses, care-givers and families to help children living with EB, and also promote EB awareness.  Epiderolysis Bullosa (EB) is a horrific genetic skin condition – similar to third degree burns – which causes the skin layers and internal body linings to separate and blister at the slightest touch.   It is passed from mother and father, who are unaware they are carriers until they have a child.  No pain medication is given Vietnam.

ü  Education for Life Programme:  HOW aim to improve the future prospects of children living in shelters and orphanages by giving them access to extra education opportunities.   Long-term education programme are in place teaching the children comprehensive computer skills, English and providing tutors to help with their regular school curriculum.

ü  Feeding Orphans Worldwide (FOW): HOW looks after the nutritional needs of children living in orphanages and in poverty in Vietnam and also provide food and nutritional supplements for these children.

ü  Children’s Art Programme (CAP)   HOW is committed to enhancing the emotional and mental wellbeing of children through arts, music and dance.

ü  Before concluding, Kerri also talked about their work with HIV/Aids/TB and leprosy, their efforts to provide wheelchairs for amputees and their endeavours to be self-sustainable by growing mushrooms and trees.

  • John Kelly thanked Kerri and Hillary for their enthusiasm.

  • The general consensus was that, while they are both so passionate and committed about what they do, they may be overextending themselves and that maybe they should be more focused on fewer projects.

 Item  Description  Action by
 Minutes of Previous Meeting andMatters Arising
  • The following items outstanding from July 30th Committee meeting were deferred to the November 26th Committee meeting:

ü  Deirdre Arthur is to discuss with Jim Caplis the question of splitting funds between two different banks and the feasibility of opening a second bank account for any overflow in excess of €100,000.

ü  Deirdre is to arrange to have one of the two SAGE licences transferred to her own PC.

ü  Risk of Revenue taking a portion of charity funds in excess of €100,000 in the bank.   Deirdre is to look into this.

  • Re ElectricAid Book/CD/DVD sale in Wilton this year:  Fiona Corr said that the books are no longer available as they were donated to another charity.

  • The Minutes of the 30th July, 2013 Committee meeting were proposed for adoption by Michael O’Connor, seconded by Anthony LeCourriard and signed by John Kelly and Anne Hogan.




 Financial ReportSeptember,  2013
  • As Deirdre Arthur was unavoidably absent, due to an important family commitment, financial figures for September, 2013 were not available.

 Funding Applications 
  • The Evaluation Group (henceforth “EvalCo”) met on 10.09.2013 and considered 33 applications, to a total applied value of €394,228. Treasurer Guidance was not available;  a prudent target funding limit of €200,000 was adopted.  This entailed cuts of the order of 50%, a good deal of difficulty in reaching this target. Good applications are being severely cut back, and some rejected.

  • Applications were received from Uganda (7), India (4), and 2 each from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Ireland.  Recommended fundings include 4 from Uganda, and 2 each from Ireland, Tanzania, India, Kenya and Ethiopia.

  • EvalCo reaffirmed the need to maintain strictly the €100,000 upper limit on project size – and felt that this should be more robustly implemented at “First Fence” stage.  Three applications were rejected on this basis, 2 being from Special Partners. In total, 9 applications were rejected, only 3are recommended in full, and 21 are recommended in part.

  • Total funding recommended is €201,725. Co-funding of €2,700 is expected from ESBI in respect of 13-A-001. Net commitment from ElectricAid is therefore €199,025.

  • The following projects were approved:

13-H-008              €5,000

13-H-009              €2,500

13-A-001              €8,000

13-A-016              €4,260

13-A-038             €7,000

13-A-079              €6,250

13-A-087             €5,600

13-A-090              €5,100

13-A-093              €8,500

13-A-096              €8,000

13-A-097              €7,850

13-A-099              €5,000

13-A-101              €7,000

13-A-102            €10,814

13-A-103              €3,000

 Item  Description  Action by
 Funding Applications continued  13-A-104            €11,53713-A-105              €7,43413-A-106           €12,724

13-A-107            €14,000

13-A-109              €7,320

13-A-112              €5,000

13-A-113            €19,792

13-A-115           €15,000

13-A-116            €15,044

  • Des said that €400,000 was cut by 50% to €200,000 and that a tougher approach is urgently needed on reducing funding for good projects.   This will be discussed further at the November 2013 ElectricAid Committee meeting.

  • The pros and cons of part-funding of projects and funding agents was discussed briefly i.e. one capable of funding the other – on the basis that the agency can come up with the funding.

  • Fiona Corr wondered if priority should be given to smaller projects.  John Kelly explained that each EvalCo member assesses projects independently and that bigger agencies get cut more.  Emesco was cited as an example, e.g.  €15,000 funded on a €20,000 application.   They should be able to raise the balance or trim back the project.   If not, it would be money down the drain.  John said the real challenge for ElectricAid is to keep people happy and that the quality of the project has to be a huge deciding factor in the ultimate outcome.

  • Des drew attention to the Special Partners arrangement and felt that it may be necessary to go back to €10,000 instead of €20,000.  James said that Special Partners was a pragmatic answer to a growing situation at the time and that a lot of pragmatism is involved in selecting projects.

  • John believes that a fair crack of the whip is given and that a balance needs to be struck between NGO’s and smaller projects,

  • Anthony suggested that it may be necessary to reduce the number of Special Partners.   John said that the Special Partner situation will need to be kept in mind.

  • Rather than addressing the question of co-funding at the next EvalCo meeting, James felt it could be done more effectively at a special meeting of the EvalCo where it could be trashed out.   Emesco could also be discussed at that meeting.   James is to organise a meeting for October/November.

  • Proposed by Peter Kelly and seconded by Pauline Holland.




  • James said €10,000 has been raised for Syria.  This included a total of €5,000 given by just two individual staff members – that €31.2k. was committed tor Syria in the past year and that the pedometer challenge had raised about €800 so far.

  • While the unfolding situation in Syria has disastrous consequences for its people, it was agreed, on balance, that a special appeal would be unwise at this time, mainly due to compassion fatigue and how it is portrayed in the media as a civil war rather than the humanitarian disaster it is turning out to be.   Des would favour a special appeal if an effective and practical way of doing it could be put in place, especially involving more retired staff.  This led to a discussion on the unavailability of the printed version of EM (ElectricMail), which most retired staff would read.



 Item  Description Action by
 Syria continued  
  • John summed up this item by saying that now is not the right time but if the situation changes, ElectricAid can act very quickly.   The importance of the news environment and how news is reported is considered very important in promoting an effective appeal campaign.

  • James is to keep a close eye on this evolving situation.


 Website and Social Media Update – (Pearse Crilly and Anthony LeCourriard) 
  •  Pearse has discussed with Brian McMahon how best to develop a website for ElectricAid that will be iPad and iPhone friendly.   It is hoped it will be up and running by the New Year.  Pearse is due to meet Brian again shortly in order to get this project moving.

  • Because ElectricAid will have to produce content in future, training will be required for 3 to 4 people.   Pearse suggested looking up the Oxfam US and Red Nose UK as excellent examples of charity websites.   He said both have good video content on how money is spent.

  • What ElectricAid wants from a website; who it is addressing; is it seeking applications or contributions; how it can help; how to donate, etc. will need to be considered carefully.

  • The website will need to be maintained and refreshed, in the clouds, with fresh content and video content.

  • Anthony has done a lot of work on this item also.  He mentioned different ways of donating, e.g. Mycharity.ie, PayPal, deduction at source for staff on the intranet.

  • The potential for bogus applicants, etc. was once again brought up by James.  Built in safeguards will need to be looked at closely in order to deal with this concern.

  • Anthony felt that an automatic reply that won’t give false expectations will be essential.  He has reviewed this and said most other charities have an e.mail address, telephone no. etc. and an auto-reply function.

  • Overall, it was agreed that priority should be given to having a website presence ASAP for donations and communication purposes.

  • Pearse said it is hoped to have something for the November ElectricAid Committee meeting.   In reply, John said there is a need for a sub-committee that will look critically at it in order to meet the requirements of ElectricAid.

  • How to communicate with retired staff was again raised.   It was felt that putting a notice on payslips by ElectricAid should have the same status as MADSOC and Sportsco.   Another suggestion was sending a special delegation to the Pensions office.

  • Pearse also mentioned that a new ESB group Twitter Account will be launched in October. In order to competently follow others on Twitter, James is due to go on a Twitter training course shortly.

  • John thanked Pearse and Anthony for all their efforts to-date.




 Item  Description  ActionBy 
 Chambers Ireland – CSR Award Application – Update (Patricia Wade) 
  • In introducing this item, John thanked Patricia Wade and Kathleen Kavanagh for the hard work involved in this project.

  • James referred to the lack of enthusiasm for this at the last meeting, which was due a previous negative experience.   He said Patricia and Kathleen did 90% of the work and went on to say that this joint venture between ESB and ElectricAid won the CSR International Award, which also featured in Sunday’s Business Post.   He stressed that Patricia put her heart and soul into this project and that the award gave due recognition to the work of ElectricAid and Vita and the great partnership that it is.

 Governance Certification; Working Group Update – (Pearse Crilly) 
  • As time did not permit, this item is on B/F for the November, 2013 ElectricAid Committee Meeting.


 Constitution Review Group – Final Report 
  • James stated that this was one of the best sub-groups he had worked with.

  • John thanked everyone involved in the Constitution review, particularly Finola O’Donnell, who did such tremendous work. He also reminded the meeting that some Committee members sent in significant contributions, which were most welcome and much appreciated.

  • With reference to the appointment of Trustees by ESB and EirGrid, the use of “shall” and “may” was discussed at the meeting and the reasons why both were chosen and left in situ.

  • Tina asked what still needs to be done in order to have the Review adopted.  The next phase is for it to be given to ESB and EirGrid Chief Executives and Company Secretaries for their comments.  James is to request comments within 3 weeks.   He said it is currently with Deirdre Cowler who is looking at it from a tax point of view.  After formal ratification at an EGM, it will be forwarded to the Revenue Commissioners.  If there are delays, there is a fallback position in that it could be formally adopted at the next AGM.

  • The question was posed as to what happens if there is a break-up of the parent company. The Group had already advised that these possible future strategic scenarios were not accommodated in the draft Constitution, nor could they or should they.

  • James said Draft Standing Orders are not for adoption now.   They were to give a flavour of what SO’s could contain.  The advantage of SO’s is that they can be amended at will by the Committee without a Constitutional amendment at an AGM or EGM.

  • John again thanked all involved, particularly Finola for all her assistance.

  • Proposed by Tina Pittock and seconded by Fiona Corr.




 Item  Description  ActionBy 
 Membership Promotion and Fundraising Initiatives 
  • James began by saying that ElectricAid has lost approximately150 members this year, which is down to c. 2,500 from a peak of 2,750.  While the need is getting greater, he feels the times will not support big-bang membership promotion.

  • A number of fundraising/membership initiatives were suggested, as follows:

ü  An Autumn raffle with donated prized. (James).

ü  Once-off fundraising effort. (James).

ü  As book sales are a great success – maybe a Fair Trade/Craft event – more trouble but less money. (James).

ü  Sponsored events go very well.  Small, medium and large local events maybe. (James).

ü  Series on ESBNet on the Millennium Goals and ElectricAid work and how it is going on these goals. This is more about awareness raising. (James).

ü  Once off easy to run money events. (James).

ü  Draw similar to MADSOC. (Fiona).

ü  An annual leave raffle (membership new and existing. (Fiona).

ü  Online payslip – push it again. (Fiona).

ü  Focus Ireland idea – Books/box for money in shop. (Pauline)

ü  Recipe Book. (Fiona).

ü  On-line store. (Fiona).

ü  Money box for coins. (John Kelly).

ü  Auction a soccer/rugby jersey – signed Dublin and Leinster jerseys – Mick O’Connor to follow up.

ü  Cookery Demonstration. (Pauline).

ü  ESB Innovation Christmas Conference (7 mins. slot – 1 min talking – 5 mins. video).   Capture what ElectricAid does – short high impact. Emphasis on “Thank You to all amazing staff”, followed up quickly afterwards. (Tina).

ü  ElectricAid – Make a Will Week (Finola O’Donnell).

ü   Will Them Well initiative. (Pauline).

ü  Membership Promotion – Organise a new Sub-Committee that will have a more strategic look at getting new members.   Go back to the Strategy Review and look and see what ideas have not been implemented. (Des).

ü  Need to go after pensioners, EirGrid staff and NT Technicians. (Des).




 Item  Description  ActionBy 
 Membership Promotion and Fundraising Initiatives continued  



ü  Have Ambassadors in various locations (Anthony).  James said there are 40 – 5 or 6 of whom are effective.ü  Sub-Committee – increasing the membership (Des) – adopted.

ü  Joint venture Co. with Vodafone in new year – may be able to tap into this.  Might be able to tap into JVCo. (Tina).

ü  Once off eCar draw maybe funded by Credit Union.  Members to take part. Tap into green technologies – to fund projects world-wide or all proceeds going to Syria.

ü  Have a Sub-Committee exclusively for monitoring and increasing membership.   Need 4 people, plus James and John Kelly, James to send an e.mail to all Committee seeking volunteers.

Other e.mail suggestions to be sent James.



 Linkage between funding applications and previous project reports. (Financial Report Item – July 2013 Minutes). 
  • As time did not allow, this item was deferred to a Special Evaluation Committee meeting


Pauline said Dr. Trish Scanlan is now back in Tanzania safe and sound and that she sends her regards and thanks for having her at the July ElectricAid Committee meeting.James informed the meeting that the ESB Chief Executive had re-appointed Michael Fox and Paul Cox as Trustees.

 Next Committee Meeting   Application                    Evaluation                 Committee            Deadline                        Group                      Meeting            

29.10.2013                   12.11.2013                 26.11.2013