Money, Money, Money – Funding A National Cycling Campaign

In this article, Cyclist.ie’s Finance Action Group sets out the current financial situation for the organisation in the context of recent rapid growth of Cyclist.ie.

This time last year, Cyclist.ie was faced with something of a crisis when one of its funders indicated they may not be able to continue with their funding support for our National Cycling Coordinator (NCC) post. 

On that occasion – and again earlier this year – Dublin Cycling Campaign responded with a very generous donation to support the post. Additionally, corporate funding was received from two tech companies, Dropbox and Red Hat. A further positive turning point came when Rethink Ireland awarded Cyclist.ie a major grant of €35,000 following our submission of a high quality funding application to them. All of this gave Cyclist.ie sufficient funding for 2022. But where does that leave us for 2023 and beyond?

A small group of volunteers, including the National Cycling Coordinator and members of our Board and Executive Committee, have now formed the backbone of a Finance Action Group and have begun to consider how to put Cyclist.ie on a sustainable financial footing.

A wide range of funding opportunity options are being considered – from seeking government funding to enlarging our private income from both individual and corporate members and from other donations. The short-term aim is to fund-raise to allow us to employ two full time members of staff – the National Cycling Coordinator and an assistant / administrator – at appropriate salaries, as well as to provide the office and meeting spaces we require. In essence, we aim to run the organisation in a much more professional way and be better able to harness the energies and skills of our growing network of volunteers. As of November 2022, Cyclist.ie has 34 member groups covering much of the island of Ireland, having grown from just seven member groups back in 2008. Between all of our groups, we have several hundred active volunteers who are engaging with pretty much every one of the 31 Local Authorities across the land – and making a real impact. You can see the spread of our member groups on this map

Finland has a similar population to Ireland. At a recent European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) webinar, we learned that the Finnish Cyclists’ Federation was formed in 2014 and, like Cyclist.ie, it received some support in the years 2014-2017 from the ECF’s “Leadership Programme” for growing national cycling advocacy organisations. Since then, they have expanded the organisation to over 3,000 members (compared to our approximate 1500 members), and they now have an annual turnover of approx €2 million which has enabled them to employ seven members of staff.

While Cyclist.ie has made many advances in recent years and has made a significant positive impact on government policy and practice on active travel, we still struggle to raise the funds to bring financial solidity to the organisation. This means that we are not fully leveraging the extensive volunteering energies in our organisation to best effect – and hence not stimulating the changes in society we are seeking as fast as they could happen. With our own new strategic plan in place, we are very much aware that with a growth in our complement of staff, we can make a far bigger impact on bringing about the safer road designs and cycle friendly environments we all know we should have. 

Over the coming months, our Finance Action Group will be focusing on securing sustainable funding for Cyclist.ie – and, most urgently, we need to bridge the gap between recurring income and current expenditure. If your company has a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, Cyclist.ie would be very grateful if you can point your CSR Manager in the direction of our Business / Organisation Membership Scheme. Another option is for employees to donate to Cyclist.ie through “Benevity” – details here.

And if you have any other questions or suggestions on this topic, please get in touch with Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, the National Cycling Coordinator. Thank you.

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