Donore Credit Union’s e25 million community ‘payback’

by Gazette Reporter

DONORE Credit Union has contributed the equivalent of e25 MILLION in social dividends to the local community in a single year, a new report has found.

Ireland’s oldest credit union, in the heart of the Liberties, is highlighting the social value it brings to the Dublin 8 area as much more than just a lender.

Independent researchers calculated that the co-op at Rutledge Terrace puts ten times more than it takes in from members back into the local community.

Donore CU, founded in 1958, supports a wide range of organisations including Liberties Cultural Association, Donore Boxing Club, Kevin’s Hurling and Camogie Club, Tenters Residents’ Association and local schools.

Its chairperson Garrett O’Toole said: “As a member owned, not for profit democratic financial co-operative, we play a huge part in improving members’ lives.

“This report measures, for the first time, how much this social contribution is worth in equivalent monetary terms.”

The report calculated the figure using the internationally recognised Social Return On Investment (SROI) approach which measures the social impact an organisation has on its community by assigning a monetary value to that impact or change.

Garrett O’Toole said: “We are more than a financial institution and should not just be measured by our asset base and the size of our loan book.

“Credit unions were founded by communities for communities and any review of the policy framework for credit unions, committed to in the Programme for Government, needs to take account of this uniqueness.”

Donore CU and Griffith College also run the ‘Brendan Lynch Scholarship’ worth e3,000 annually in memory of the long-term stalwart of Ireland’s first credit union.

CU CEO David McAuley said: “We undertook this study as we strongly believe that the success of our credit union should not be measured solely in terms of financial results.  

“While we continue to thrive financially (assets of e36m), our true success lies in the measurement of the many lives improved.

“Behind our financial accounts are real people, real stories, real problems, real successes. This report clarifies precisely the value of the credit union. It is simply stunning.”

He said with e18bn in assets as a collective it was time for a “new conversation” with Government about the possibility of credit unions funding social housing.

He added: “It is a terrifying thought but what would the area around Donore Credit Union be like if the credit union no longer existed?”

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