New York, N.Y.—The County Mayo Foundation officially launched its “Be a Part of the Start” campaign in New York City May 16, a geographically-targeted crowdfunding platform that is the first such initiative outside of Ireland to target County Mayo’s 2.5 million diaspora in the United States.
The platform is carried on the website, www.countymayofoundation.org.
The cocktail reception launch, which was held at the Fifth Avenue home of Mrs. Geraldine Kundstadter, included the special presentation of a uniquely crafted brooch by Mayo-based goldsmith Nigel O’Reilly, who traveled to New York from Mayo for the special occasion.
The campaign, initiated last year, is intended to connect the foundation with the diaspora, considered the largest group of Irish-Americans to claim heritage from any county in Ireland. County Mayo Foundation is hoping to reach out to Mayo’s diaspora, encouraging them to be at the forefront of a targeted crowdfunding platform that will serve as a major funding stream for hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the county.
In her remarks to the invited guests, a cross section of Mayo diaspora from the tri-state area, Vice President Siobhan Carney, a native of Kiltimagh, outlined the foundation’s mission and its unique use of the crowdfunding platform that will connect to the county’s robust non-profit sector.
The funding model will support projects in the education, public health, arts and culture, recreation, and social enterprise sectors, with donors seeing their dollars benefit organizations in real time, explained Carney.
Over the past year, under the leadership of President Jim Waldron, its Executive Director, Mike Hannon, and with the support of Mayo County Council Director of Services Joanne Grehan, the foundation has achieved a number of key goals. They include a three-year strategic plan, a board that consists of trustees from County Mayo, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia, Pa., two advisory groups focused on fundraising and communications, a critical partnership with Mayo Council Council, and much more.
“This foundation represents an opportunity – like no other at present – to support and build the capacity of the 300 non-profits in County Mayo, the many small grass-root organizations that represent the backbone of every small community,” Carney said.
Speaking to the foundation’s desire for early funding, Carney added, “We know we can go far, with your help, and with the support of our wider diaspora.”
The event also included a keynote presentation from Professor Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University.
Kinealy, whose mother comes from Ballycastle, spoke about the famine of 1847 that decimated County Mayo’s population from 389,000 people to just over 130,000.
“While it’s true that the tragic legacy of the Great Hunger added to the size of the Mayo diaspora here in United States, I think it is only fitting that the descendants of that diaspora give back to the county that many of them feel closely connected with,” she said.