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Jean O’Brien

Irish Charity Lab

Awardee 2014

Irish Charity Lab
Jennifer Ryan
Mairead Healy

Irish Charity Lab is an organisation committed to becoming a national hub for information, data, and expertise on digital communication for Irish charities, offering non-profits the ability to enhance their digital presence and power.

The Challenge

The closure of Ireland’s two largest philanthropic funds means that the charitable sector is facing a severe financial shortfall in the coming years as they attempt to maintain the service levels currently being delivered. In addition, government funding cuts, economic pressures, and an increasing demand for transparent practices means that some smaller organisations are struggling to keep their head above water, stretching their financial resources to breaking point. Within this context, not-for-profits continue to struggle in their efforts to harness the power of digital technology to inspire, engage and mobilise resources. A recent study carried out by The Wheel, Ireland’s representative body for the charity sector, shows that 49% of charities feel that they struggle to utilise social media in pursuit of their mission. All of this amounts to a missed opportunity, one that would help these organisations to thrive.

The Idea

Passionate about digital communication, Jean became increasingly frustrated by the shortage of specialised digital expertise available in Ireland. Additionally, she believed that digital communication as a discipline was largely under-valued and under-represented in Ireland’s charity sector, despite the incredible stories that so many organisations have to tell. This combination of frustration and determination saw Jean establish Irish Charity Lab, an organisation committed to becoming a national hub for information, data, and expertise on digital communication for Irish charities. Offering charities ways to enhance their digital presence and power, Irish Charity Lab is helping organisations utilise case studies, access relevant toolkits, and identify research updates in their field, while also providing general mentoring and support.

The Impact

Although still in its infancy, Irish Charity Lab already has a community of over 140 active members. Assisted by a highly qualified team of experts, Jean expects Irish Charity Lab will be in a position to support many of the 8,000 charities of all shapes and sizes registered in Ireland. The services on offer have the potential to help organisations across the country maintain and expand the important work they are already doing, ensuring that the non-profit sector as a whole makes the most of 21st century innovative technologies.

I've learned so much, my enterprise has reached people it never would have before, and the supportive, constructively critical advice I get from SEI has been so valuable.

Jean O'Brien

Jean O’Brien, Elevator Award, 2014

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Lower Ground Floor, 11/12 Warrington Place, Dublin 2
Phone: +353 1 685 3191, Email: info@socialentrepreneurs.ie

Company No: 433846, Registered Charity No: CHY 17524, © SEI 2016

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