Community Finance Ireland is pleased to announce its support for the SERI Census Campaign, a significant initiative aimed at uplifting social enterprises throughout Ireland. This partnership underscores Community Finance Ireland’s commitment to fostering positive change and community development.
In a notable achievement, Mobile IT CLG has emerged as the winner of Community Finance Ireland’s prize for their participation in the SERI Social Enterprise Census. This recognition highlights their dedication to the social enterprise sector and their impactful work within the community.
The celebratory event took place at the Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, where key figures from Mobile IT CLG, including Maureen Browne (Chairperson) and Alice Quinlan, joined Nora Keogh (Client Relationship Manager at Community Finance Ireland) and Catherine Fitzgerald from Charleville to discuss all things social enterprise related.
Community Finance Ireland and SERI are both committed to supporting social enterprises that make a lasting impact on our communities. Together, they aim to empower social enterprises across Ireland, ensuring that they have the resources and recognition they deserve.
For more information on this collaboration and the SERI Census Campaign, please visit SERI’s website.
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Community and volunteer-led organisations who choose social finance solutions could see a social return of investment of over 3.42 times the initial investment. That’s according to Community Finance Ireland (CFI), the most progressive social finance provider across the island.
Based on a social value analysis undertaken by Rose Regeneration and the Rural Community Network, CFI has established that for every €1/£1 spent in delivering projects on the island, local communities have seen a return of 3.42 times that investment, through wider social benefits such as improved community health and increased employment opportunities and skill levels.
Dónal Traynor, CEO of CFI, says the cumulative impact of such projects is boundless:
“We strive to create a lasting social impact in every community on the island of Ireland. As the first all island Social Value Report our team and clients can really see the multiplier effect played out in communities across the island every day.If a community development group were to invest in remote working spaces, for example, the ripple effect sees stronger social connections in that community, more money spent in local businesses, and a greater sense of belonging for individuals who might have previously worked in isolation at home or spent hours on a commute. You cannot underestimate the social impact of these changes, and the social value analysis carried out by Rose Regeneration and the Rural Community Network, via the Social Value Engine platform, demonstrates the return of investment which communities can expect.”
Mr. Traynor added that social finance offers communities even greater social impact:
“Not only do we offer more tailored supports and knowledgeable advice for volunteer-led organisations, but communities also know they’re part of an all-island social impact network – in repaying their loan, a sports club in Ballymoney is supporting a social enterprise in Bantry. Any profit goes straight back to supporting other similar projects, it’s a circular social economy that is making real change happen in communities across the island.”
Conor McGale, Evaluation and Impact Manager at Rose Regeneration said:
“We were delighted to be approached by Community Finance Ireland to carry out this analysis, which clearly demonstrates its social impact in supporting organisations across the island of Ireland. This report focuses on the assistance that CFI provided to a wide range of groups, whose financing and fundraising options were seriously curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the conversations that we had, it was clear that CFI played an essential role in ensuring many VCSE organisations were able to keep growing and developing, whilst continuing to provide essential services to their local communities.”
For more information you can view the report in full here.
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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €1.4 million of support in Louth since 2016 –
“This is a much-needed space that young people in Carlingford have asked for and which they can make their own while also feeling feel safe and supported.” That is according to the team at Carlingford Community Development Ltd (CCDL) who recently opened a new Youth Hub and Café in the Foy Centre, which was supported by a bridging loan from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).
Established in 2002, the CCDL manages the Foy Community Centre, a multi-purpose community space, at Dundalk Street, Carlingford. Through consultations with young people in the local community, CCDL took action to address a rise in anti-social behaviour in the local community, by converting an existing vacant café within the Foy Centre into a dedicated Youth Hub.
Erin Finegan joined the CCDL in 2020 as a Youth Volunteer, working to improve community initiatives for young people in the area. She said:
“The Carlingford Community Development team has been at the heart of Carlingford’s community sector for twenty years and we’re delighted to create a dedicated space for young people here in the Foy Centre. We’ve run some really successful initiatives with young people in the area over the past year and the feedback they shared was that they needed a space of their own to meet and socialise and feel connected. We knew we could make that possible for them with the right financial support.
On foot of Louth Leader Grant Aid we approached Community Finance Ireland and they could not have been more straight-forward and the team were so easy to work with. Once the paperwork was submitted, we could access the funds within 2-3 weeks which meant we could get started with work on the café straight away.”
Community Finance Ireland provides social finance loans to community and volunteer-led organisations that drive social impact through sport, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. Operating a model similar to traditional credit unions, all loan repayments go toward supporting other communities across Ireland. To support CCDL’s refurbishments, Community Finance Ireland provided a bridging loan of €20,400.
Colm Prendergast, CFI Client Relationship Executive for North Leinster said:
“It has been a pleasure to work with the CCDL team and we’re delighted to see how the newly established Youth Café has transformed the local community’s relationship with its young people.The café has already hosted several different initiatives including a Women’s Aid outreach programme and English lessons for Ukrainian refugees. In the evening time, the café is a safe space for local young people to meet and socialise while being supervised and supported.“
Supporting Communities in Louth
Between 2016 and 2022, Community Finance Ireland delivered €16.2 million in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Leinster, including €1.39 million in support of projects in Louth.
Based on a Social Value analysis undertaken by the Rural Community Network in Northern Ireland, CFI has established that has established that its funding solution delivers a return on investment that creates a multiplier effect of 3.42 times the initial investment through wider social benefits such as improved community health and increased employment opportunities and skill levels.
A total of €33.5m million has been allocated to organisation and sports clubs organisations across Ireland between 2016 and 2022.
If you want to unlock a grant award or have a community idea that needs finance get in touch with a team member near you.
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– Community Finance Ireland delivers €7 million of support in Munster region since 2016-
A new community garden and café will open its doors at Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre following major renovations. The renovations have been completed in time for the centre to celebrate its 20th anniversary in early July, thanks to support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).
Well established in the local community since its foundation in 2003, the Family Resource Centre moved into the former Garda Barracks on The Green in 2017.
With the support of Community Finance Ireland, refurbishments were undertaken to make the building fully accessible; to upgrade toilet facilities; repurpose outbuildings; and to landscape the rear of the building into a community garden. The outbuildings now accommodate a training kitchen and café which will be open to the public in Autumn 2023.
Providing training and education, information services and tailored supports for young people, elderly people, parents, refugees and those with disabilities, the Family Resource Centre also offers rooms for hire to local community organistions, including the newly established training kitchen.
Kees Duson, Manager of Killaloe Ballina Family Resource Centre, said:
“When we first opened our doors in 2003, we were based in a small residential apartment, which we outgrew very quickly. We spent the next decade located in a commercial premises on Main Street in Killaloe, which, while it gave us fantastic footfall and helped many people in the community to discover our services and supports, the steep hill meant it was difficult for older people in our community and for those with mobility issues to access.
When we agreed a long-term lease with the Office of Public Works for this building, we knew we’d found a home for the community that was full of potential. This is a very old building and it had been empty for four or five years before we took it over so it needed a lot of work to address wear and tear and damp and bring it up to standard on accessibility and energy ratings. There weren’t many options for community groups seeking funding around that time so we were delighted to discover Community Finance Ireland’s tailored supports for volunteer and community-led organisations. It was exactly what we were looking for.”
Nora Keogh, CFI Client Relationship Manager for the Munster Region, said:
“We’re delighted to have played our part in supporting the Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre through these works and to have helped make this renovation possible. The team approached us with a dream of what could be made possible with this fantastic building which would provide an accessible and welcoming space for so many individuals and groups in the community, delivering a broad range of activities, courses and events including art and crafts, computer classes and cookery programmes for all ages and abilities, youth services including a youth cafe, to name a few- and now with the expanded rooms, the new training kitchen, community cafe and garden space, all of that has been made possible. I have no doubt that for their next 20 years, this team of change-makers will be dreaming even bigger for the local community.”
Community Finance Ireland provided Killaloe Ballina Community and Family Resource Centre with a long-term loan of €218,000 to undertake the repairs and renovations required on the buildings. Further funding was provided by the Town and Village Renewal Scheme from the Department of Rural and Community Development via Clare County Council, and LEADER funding from both North Tipperary Development Company & Clare Local Development Company.
Between 2016 and 2021, Community Finance Ireland delivered €7 million in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Munster, including €1.7 million in support of projects in Clare, and €1 million in support of projects in Tipperary.
– Community Finance Ireland delivers €3.8million in support of local sports clubs –
The oldest skiff-rowing club in Dublin will be launching their traditional skiffs from a modern new pontoon at the mouth of the River Liffey thanks to support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI).
Founded in 1936, St Patrick’s Rowing Club in Ringsend has taken the All-Ireland Senior Skiff Race title 16 times in the last 20 years and has secured gold in international competitions in London and Italy. The club now boasts a membership of 100 people, aged from 9 to 90.
Treasurer at St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, David Cox said that the new infrastructure will enable the club to streamline their activities – getting their heavy training boats on the water with less manpower – and crucially make their boats fully accessible for wheelchair users. He said:
“Skiff racing originates from hobbling – a competitive business which saw working boats race to approaching ships to pilot them into port and win the contract of unloading and loading their cargo.. When this practice was outlawed in 1936, clubs began to appear all along the Dublin coastline and beyond, with our own club here in Ringsend being the first. So much of our community is steeped in this rich history but we also want to give our members the best, most advanced infrastructure that we can and importantly, to make it accessible to everyone in the community. This new pontoon means we can get everyone out on the water to enjoy this fantastic sport.”
Traditional skiff boats are 25 feet long, housing four rowers and a cox.
Visiting the new pontoon, Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance Ireland ROI, said:
“Watching the team here at St Patrick’s Rowing Club working together – it really is all hands on deck to move these skiffs down the water but with this new pontoon you can see how much easier that task is for them. It’s taking the strain off the existing members, getting them out on the water quicker, where they want to be and crucially, it’s opening up the sport to a even more people by making the boats more accessible.
“After recent open days, St Patrick’s have welcomed over 60 new members in the last few weeks. The team here – David, Phil, Irene and Richie – have all been involved since childhood and they’re passing their love of the sport on to the next generation. There’s a rich history here in Ringsend and there’s no doubt of the club’s future either.”
Community Finance Ireland provide tailored social finance supports to grassroots and community organisations across Ireland. In 2022, the team delivered over €3.8million in social finance loans to sports clubs such as St Patrick’s Rowing Club which accessed a bridging loan of €40,000 to undertake the planned developments.
This bridging enabled St Patrick’s to unlock two approved grants, from the Sports Capital Grant and from Dublin Waste to Energy Community Gain Projects Grant Scheme.
If you and your sports club need advice on funding options available to you, get in touch today or follow us onTwitter for the latest Community Finance Ireland news.
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– Community Finance Ireland delivers almost €1 million of financial support in Cork since 2016 –
Na Piarsaigh GAA, a thriving football and hurling club with almost 800 playing members, is looking to the future with further expansion plans, after support from Community Finance Ireland (CFI) enabled the club to restructure existing bank debt.
First founded by a group of local schoolboys, Na Piarsaigh GAA Club has been at the centre of the Fairhill community in Co. Cork since 1943. As the club prepares to celebrate its 80th anniversary, the board are outlining plans for further expansion to meet the demands of a growing membership.
During the recession, the club experienced financial difficulties, which former Club Chairman Denis O’Neill says led to an anxious time for the board:
“The recession hit us badly, we fell back on payments and were very worried. When we dealt with the bank, they were dealing with us like we were a business. It was at that time that James O’Connor, Selector and Club Accountant at Na Piarsaigh, brought Community Finance Ireland to the attention of the Board.”
Community Finance Ireland provides social finance loans to community and volunteer-led organisations that drive social impact through sport, community projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. Operating a model similar to traditional credit unions, all loan repayments go toward supporting other communities across Ireland. CFI provided Na Piarsaigh Hurling and Football Club with a long-term loan of €500,000 to restructure their existing bank loans.
Club Chairman Na Piarsaigh GAA Denis O’Neill said:
“I particularly like that Community Finance Ireland are a non-profit organisation. CFI understand that we are volunteers who just want to provide quality sports services for our local community. They understand where we are coming from and the challenges we faced as a voluntary board.”
Nora Keogh, CFI Client Relationship Manager for the Munster Region, said:
“Na Piarsaigh are an important hub for the local community with members playing at under six right up to senior level. Beyond the players and their families, the club also offers accessible facilities to the wider community through hire of the hall, and their indoor arena, the first of its kind to be built in Ireland which is a great source of pride for the club. We’re delighted to have helped the club refinance and find a pathway to become debt free. The legacies of the recession still have a hold on many clubs across Ireland and we’re proud to help them pave a way forward so that like Na Piarsaigh, they can plan for the future, rather than feel bogged down by the past.”
O’Neill says the club hopes to develop new facilities for the local community and upgrade the public walkway. They hope to secure adjacent land to accommodate an additional training pitch.
Between 2016 and 2022, Community Finance Ireland delivered €7.8m in social finance supports to volunteer and community-led organisations in Munster, including €0.8m in support of projects in Cork.
A total of £16.9m (€18.5m) has been allocated to 162 sports clubs and organisations across Ireland between 2016 and 2022.
A historic community hall in Crosspatrick, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny, has undergone extensive renovations, transforming it into a vibrant hub of activity for residents of all ages. Thanks to the support and advice of Community Finance Ireland (CFI), the Crosspatrick Community Group successfully revitalized the hall with a term and bridging loan in social finance, enabling the facility to offer a wide range of activities, from table tennis and spin classes to bridge tournaments.
Originally constructed in 1810 as a church, the building later served as a school for the local rural community before being repurposed as a community hall in 1950. Over the years, it has become a central gathering place for residents, hosting various events, including school activities, coffee mornings, card nights, and exercise classes. The hall’s renovation project, initiated in 2020, addressed the building’s deteriorating condition, upgrading essential elements such as windows, toilets, and the kitchen to ensure accessibility and compliance with modern standards.
Thomas O’Connell, the Secretary of the Crosspatrick Community Group, highlighted the hall’s significance, stating,
“People would never get together if it wasn’t for the hall. For as long as I can remember, it has been at the heart of this local community.” The renovations have already had a positive impact, fostering a sense of community and providing a space where laughter and connection can thrive. In addition to its current offerings, the Crosspatrick Community Group aims to establish a business hub within the hall later this year.”
Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance Ireland ROI, visited the renovated hall to commend Thomas and the Crosspatrick Community Group on their successful project. He emphasized the collaborative effort that made the renovations possible, stating:
“The renovations undertaken here are a fantastic testament to the people power of volunteers from the Crosspatrick Community Group, who have seen this project through from the outset.” Symes also acknowledged the community’s dedicated fundraising efforts and the financial support received from Community Finance Ireland, a Leader grant for Rural Development, and a community grant from the Bord na Mona Powergen Bruckana Windfarm.“
Community Finance Ireland has been instrumental in supporting community and voluntary organizations in Kilkenny, approving a total of €2.28 million in social finance loans since 2016. The organization takes a flexible approach to funding, bridging gaps and providing loans to meet the diverse needs of community groups.
Thomas expressed his gratitude for the support received from Community Finance Ireland, stating,
“”Our experience with Community Finance Ireland was really fantastic. Barry helped us with advice on our Leader grant application as well as the bridging loan to get the project off the ground. That support is the reason we’re here today.“
The Crosspatrick community hall’s transformation stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and the impact of social finance in empowering local communities.
Community Finance Ireland continues to deliver social finance solutions that support various community initiatives, sports projects, faith-based groups, and social enterprises. As part of the UCIT Group, Community Finance Ireland is the most progressive social finance provider on the island of Ireland.
If you and your community facilIf you, your board and volunteers need advice on how to fund a new idea for your community hall get in touch today or follow us onTwitter.
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Dolmen Leisure Company CLG has announced it has successfully secured €175,000 in LEADER funding, which has been formally approved by the Donegal Local Development Company and Donegal LCDC, to establish a new Thatching School at the Dolmen Centre in Kilclooney, Portnoo, Co. Donegal.
The project, developed by the committee of Dolmen Leisure Company CLG, aims to support the continuation of the craft of thatching, which is an integral aspect of vernacular architecture in Donegal and Ireland.
With 75% of the construction costs covered by LEADER funding, the committee is actively raising funds to secure the remaining 25% through other funding and donations. The Thatching School will provide training in thatching delivered by master thatchers, who are keen to pass on their skills and knowledge. This unique educational facility will create employment opportunities and boost tourism in the area, offering a rewarding role to those who are seeking to work for themselves.
Speaking about the initiative, Patsy Harkin from Dolmen Leisure Company CLG, said:
“One of our founding members of The Dolmen Centre, Conal Shovlin, first mooted this idea for Portnoo and tried to secure funding over 20 years ago so we’re thrilled to see our plans come to fruition after all these years. We’re excited to have professionally trained thatchers pass on their skills and keep this dying trade alive. The Thatching School and its construction is no longer a dream but will now be a reality.”
Sinéad McLaughlin, Rural Development Manager, DLDC, expressed her support for the Thatching School:
“DLDC is delighted to support the Dolmen Leisure Company CLG in their efforts to establish the Thatching School through its LEADER programme. This project will not only contribute to the preservation of an important cultural heritage but also create employment opportunities and boost tourism in the area. We look forward to seeing the Thatching School thrive and the continuation of this unique craft.”
Dolmen Leisure also thanked Community Finance Ireland for providing interim finance for the project. Barry Symes, Head of Community Finance ROI, said:
“The team at Dolmen Leisure Company CLG are a fantastic example of visionary community spirit. We are delighted to be able to help finance this project and welcome the opportunities both of employment and future tourism that the project will bring to the area”.
Paddy Mc Hugh Building Contractors Ltd has been appointed as the local contractor, and Cornerstone Architecture in Ardara will be responsible for the design and supervision of the build. The planning permission was approved by Donegal County Council in mid-2022.
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First cross-border workshop held in Derry~Londonderry as part of delivery programme for project supported through the International Fund for Ireland.
An ambitious cross-border project is bringing people together to deliver a capacity building programme that will make border communities more sustainable.
NetWORKS23 is funded by the International Fund for Ireland’s (IFI) Communities in Partnership Programme (CiPP). It has a strong focus on developing and embedding sustainable relationships on a cross-border basis through supporting cooperation and innovation between groups and organisations North and South.
The project is being led by Community Finance Ireland in partnership with Rural Community Network. Both organisations bring a wealth of experience in social enterprise, finance, peace building and reconciliation.
Through a shared learning approach, NetWORKS 23 will facilitate cross-community and cross-border engagement with people who have had limited opportunities for collaborative working. The Project targets community and voluntary organisations in Derry, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh, Donegal and Tyrone.
Participants to date have attended residentials in Sligo and a cross-border workshop in Greysteel at the Vale Centre. The daylong seminar provided practical insight into the Vale Centre’s commercial activities, revenue generation and how a social enterprise approach feeds into the public and social services offered to the wider community.
NetWORKS23 aims to build progressive partnerships that will deliver meaningful benefits for communities on both sides of the border and raise awareness of the issues and challenges while also contributing to the wider peace building work of the IFI.
Commenting on the project, IFI Chair Paddy Harte says;
“The NetWORKS23 Project is timely as border areas have traditionally suffered from isolation, lack of investment and the ongoing legacy of The Troubles. It is important to examine how we can improve reconciliation between rural Unionist and Nationalist communities to help build resilience and develop local leadership. This initiative will provide the necessary training for participants to examine the long-term development of their own projects within a wider peace and reconciliation context.
The IFI is committed to delivering cross-community and cross-border outreach, encouraging challenging conversations to deal with a range of issues. We are particularly pleased to support this project under CiPP, which values innovation and the creation of positive and long-lasting relationships between cross-border communities who share similar challenges.”
Donal Traynor Group CEO of Community Finance Ireland had this to say:
“Community Finance Ireland are delighted to lend their support to this cross-border initiative. Our support for the ongoing prosperity and development of all communities has been in place for over 21 years and our commitment remains for this generation and the next.”
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Community Finance Ireland are delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark Accreditation. This prestigious accreditation demonstrates that the company is creating real benefits for people and the planet, and is committed to social impact.
The Social Enterprise Mark is an independently assessed accreditation that recognizes organizations that are operating as social enterprises. This means that they are using business to create social and environmental impact, and are committed to reinvesting their profits back into their mission.
Community Finance Ireland’s CEO, Donal Traynor, expressed his excitement about achieving the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation, saying:
“We are thrilled to have received this accreditation, which confirms our ongoing commitment to creating positive social impact. At Community Finance Ireland, we believe that social finance can play a critical role in building a more equitable and sustainable future for everyone. Our recent Social Value Impact report and findings further demonstrate how social finance is working to achieve great results, and we are committed to continuing this important work.”
The Social Enterprise Mark is awarded by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the leading global authority on social enterprise. To achieve the accreditation, Community Finance Ireland underwent a rigorous assessment process that evaluated the company’s social and environmental impact, governance structures, and financial sustainability.
As a registered social enterprise, Community Finance Ireland is committed to using finance as a tool for positive social change. The company provides affordable loans to community and voluntary organizations, social enterprises, and charities across Ireland, helping to build stronger communities and support important social causes.
As well as recognising Community Finance Ireland’s dedication to achieving high quality social impact, holding the mark demonstrates our commitment to effective good governance controls, stakeholder engagement, financial transparency and ethical and good business practices.
Stephanie Nicholl, Compliance Officer at Community Finance Ireland said:
“The Social Enterprise Mark recognises and builds the capabilities of social enterprises as sustainable businesses that are dedicated to maximising social impact. The Mark recognises the value of our social impact, specifically with our clients that we work with in the Social Enterprise sector across areas such as sport, arts and heritage, community organisations, faith and church groups and the workspace provision.”
Stephanie further explains the importance of the recognition in the short video below:
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