Irish Defence Forces charity turns to tech to raise funds in almost cashless society

Annual Sleeping Flags campaign sees ONE introduce contactless contributions and QR code transfers to ramp up donations as part of fundraising efforts this weekend

Defence Forces Veterans Joe Kelly & Pat Flavin fundraising in Whitewater SC, Newbridge recently. Photo by Wayne Fitzgerald

IRELAND: ONE, Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (or the Organisation of National Ex-service Personnel), has today announced the inclusion of new technologies to boost fundraising efforts for its annual Sleeping Flags campaign. The not-for-profit organisation is focusing on contactless contributions and QR code transfers as part of efforts to increase donations in what has become an almost cashless society. ONE offers housing and support to homeless veterans across Ireland, with the ultimate goal of helping ex-personnel access permanent accommodation. The organisation also provides a professional counselling service to support the mental health of struggling veterans.

A series of events took place in Dublin, Athlone and Limerick this weekend, while donations can also be made through the ONE website or by texting ‘FLAG’ To 50300. Annually, the event sees veterans and ONE members using symbolic and specially-created, tricolour sleeping bags to highlight the unjust fate of many of Ireland’s ex-servicemen and women, who find themselves homeless.

Sleeping Flag fundraisers took place on Saturday, July 28th, in Dublin (Defence Forces Open Day, Farmleigh Estate), Athlone (SuperValu, Ballymahon Road), and Limerick (Crescent Shopping Centre). ONE will build on the success of February’s Hope Couture campaign – which allowed the public to donate by scanning QR-coded camouflage streetwear – and is once again embracing new technology. 

The charity will trial its digital payment systems across all venues, providing a number of ways to support. While cash will, of course, still be very welcome, people can also opt to tap their phones or bank cards on the fundraising buckets, or on the charity’s new ID-size Near Field Communication (NFC) cards. The various cashless methods of payment, including all website donations, will be linked to Stripe technology, ensuring a safe and secure transaction for the charity and its generous supporters.

First established in 2019, Sleeping Flags campaign was launched as a direct response to increasing levels of homelessness among ex-service personnel. Every one of our veterans, whether Permanent or Reserve, volunteered to join the Defence Forces to defend our country, to protect vulnerable communities at home and overseas, and to support the other institutions of the State. However, nobody volunteered to be a homeless veteran. All funds raised will go directly towards improving support centres, funding vital veteran homes, increasing mental health outreach, and supporting those at the heart of the charity.

Through its 38 branches, 15 veteran centres, and four residential homes across the country, ONE supports homeless veterans who have fallen on hard times and those who find adjusting to civilian life challenging. To date, the charity has helped more than 1,000 veterans out of homelessness and provides 18,615 bed nights a year, between its homes in Athlone, Cobh, Dublin and Letterkenny. 

Recent research shows that fewer people are carrying cash than ever before, with a Charity Digital study from earlier this year citing COVID as one of the reasons for the shift. The report noted that contactless payments went from a luxury to a necessity during this period, with digital, contactless, and cashless payments becoming essential to maintaining fundraising efforts. A report from the Charities Regulator, meanwhile, found that fewer Irish people want to donate by cash and cheque, with 38% of those surveyed saying they prefer to donate by credit or debit card.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s fundraising events, and the move towards digital, Defence Forces Veteran and CEO of ONE, Cormac Kirwan, said: 

“There are so many veterans in Ireland that need our help and support and fundraising events like this make our work possible. This campaign aims to improve awareness and provide funding to support the needs of Irish veterans, through the provision of accommodation, mental health outreach and addiction counselling.”

To donate text ‘FLAG’ To 50300, or visit the ONE Payzone portal. Texts cost €4. ONE will receive a minimum of €3.60Service Provider: LIKECHARITY – Helpline: 01 481 9311.