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Vodafone World of Difference

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Yesterday Vodafone Ireland Foundation (VIF) launched its fourth-annual World of Difference programme.

The programme offers four Irish people the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in a charitable organisation of their choice with a one year salary (up to €40,000) and expenses provided by Vodafone Ireland Foundation.

The programme, which is funded by the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, offers participants a chance to make some real, tangible differences to the lives of many people within their own community or further afield. They have the opportunity to make a long term positive impact on people's lives, by tackling some of the many complex issues that are part and parcel of Irish life today.

The competition has a new twist this year aimed at engaging the public in the vote. The judges will shortlist 6 candidates, then choose three winners. The remaining three winners will be involved in a Facebook campaign then whereby the public will be able to vote for the fourth winner.

The judging panel this year are Ray D'Arcy, Roisin Ingle, Claire Byrne, Gavin Duffy and Carolan Lennon of Vodafone.

Who Is The Guest?

Laura Turkington, Corporate Responsibilities Manager - Vodafone Foundation Ireland

Her role encompasses managing all aspects of Vodafone's CR agenda including its commitments to the environmental space, charitable giving and fostering a spirit of volunteerism. As CR manager, Laura also manages Vodafone Ireland Foundation, working directly with its Board to facilitate its portfolio of charitable projects nationwide. This includes the immensely successful World of Difference programme, which enables people to take a year off from their jobs to bring their talents to a particular charitable organisation, whilst receiving a salary from Vodafone.

Before joining Vodafone, Laura worked as Director of Strategy for the Niall Mellon Township Trust, and has worked in several positions in the ICT telco sector both in Ireland and further afield.

Vodafone Ireland Foundation (VIF) was established in 2003, and is part of Vodafone's commitment to be a responsible global citizen and member of society. Since its launch, the Vodafone Ireland Foundation has provided funding for a wide range of charitable projects throughout Ireland, spending in excess of €4.5 million. For more information visit

Fiona Sexton (Volunteer Centres Ireland)

Volunteer Centres Ireland is an independent national charity that seeks to increase the extent, range and quality of volunteering in Ireland, and which has a network of 20 local volunteer centres nationwide. This is currently a particularly relevant area, with the worsening economic climate meaning that charities are unable to fund salaried positions, and many people looking for tangible, meaningful volunteering roles which will improve or develop their skills set. Volunteer Centres Ireland operates as a placement service between individuals and a diverse range of organisations, ensuring quality matches between both. Fiona took up the position of Project Manager for the "Volunteering Gap Project" .

Killian Stokes (Global Charity Platform)

Killian is co-founder of this new and innovative charitable endeavour.The Global Charity Platform aims to provide every consumer with an online charity wallet where they can gather their unused loyalty points and airmiles and donate these points directly as cash to support projects and charities working to combat extreme poverty in the developing world. He took up the position of CEO of the charity will enabled him to fully concentrate on promoting GCP, raising capital and philanthropic support, secure other corporate support for the initiative, partner with other appropriate overseas charities and recruit Irish members to the charity.

Laura Turkington, Corporate Responsibilities Manager - Vodafone Foundation Ireland

This is the fourth year of the programme, where did the idea come from?

The concept started in New Zealand with the Vodafone foundation there. We looked at the model and applied it to Ireland as we wanted a different way of enabling people to donate to charity while also achieving considerable outreach in their community at the same time.

The programme launched on Monday, what significant dates do applicants need to know?

The programme was launched yesterday April 22nd and we will be taking online applications through our Facebook page and through the Vodafone Ireland Foundation website. All applications are made online. We will then shortlist 12 applicants and we will interview them and their chosen charity by phone. On the 13th and 14th of May they will have to present before our panel of judges and convince them why they should be a winner. Three outright winners and three nominees will be decided from this. The three nominees will take part in a Facebook campaign in the last two weeks of May and the public will vote for their winner. The four winners will then be announced at the end of May. The public will also be able to track previous winners through the Facebook page.

Who are the judges and what are you looking for from potential applicants?

The judging panel this year are Ray D'Arcy, Roisin Ingle, Claire Byrne, Gavin Duffy and Carolan Lennon of Vodafone.

All applicants are asked to outline the role they could undertake for a year with their nominated charity of choice and to specifically address how they could make a demonstrable difference within those 12 months.

We are looking for candidates who believe that they can make a world of difference to their chosen project and who have the capability to achieve this and make a long lasting impact over the year. We are looking for fresh and innovative ideas from people who could not achieve this without the help of the foundation.

Do they chose the charity and approach them?

We are keen that they have the backing of the charity and that there is a particular need or gap in the charity. Often it is a charity that they are particularly passionate about and have an idea of how they could help.

How much experience do they need in their chosen field?

They do not need experience in the charity sector; in fact many people who enter are working in the private sector but want to make the move to the charity sector and perhaps do not have the experience. They can apply their corporate skills to their new role in the charity. As long as they are passionate and have the ability we are interested.

What happens in the interview process?

They are interviewed by the five judges and have to pitch their idea to them and answer their questions afterwards.

Have the winners gone on to stay with the charity or within the field?

More often they stay within the field. They might carve a niche in the charity and prove their worth so where possible they will try and keep them on. They may find a different role in the charity or work for a different company in the sector.

How is the recession affecting charity work in Ireland?

This year we see the difference more than ever. There are a lot of people out of work who have a great interest in charity work. There are also a lot of charities who are struggling with funding and could really use the programme to fund fundamental roles in their organisation.

How does the programme benefit charities?

This year in particular with the inclusion of the Facebook campaign we want to highlight the actual work that these charities do and create more awareness for the charities themselves. We also have a partnership with Volunteer Ireland so that people who cannot commit to the full year but are interested in doing some short term charity work can apply online and be matched with a suitable charity for a convenient period of time.

For more information on how to enter please visit:

Killian Stokes, Co Dublin

Working with: is an internet based charity platform which allows consumers to gather and convert retail loyalty points and airmiles into direct cash donations for charity projects of their choice - at home and overseas. will combine internet and social networking technology with loyalty point programmes to create a new and repeatable source of 'micro' fundraising for charities.

What is your background?

Killian spent the 1990's in the international telecoms industry working across the world in business development with leading technology companies (Openwave Systems, Spectel Telecommunications). In 2001, Killian helped establish Irish charity, "Aids Partnership with Africa" and has since helped raise over €5m for leading Irish charities, including Concern and Barnardos. In 2005 while completing a masters in International Relations Killian carried out extensive research on the AIDS epidemic in Uganda. On the same trip, he travelled to Eritrea to create the pioneering 'Water for Africa Appeal' between Concern and Tipperary Water raising €½ million for water projects.

Where did your interest in charity work begin?

In college I studied business and was particularly interested in development economics and figured I would move into the charity sector. In 2001 I was working in the telecoms industry in London and getting set-up but I was not satisfied with work. I replied to an ad in the The Irish Times from a priest who was working on the "Aids Partnership with Africa" programme. I also helped raise money for Concern in Nepal, the target was €4000 and I managed to raise €10,000. I realised that I would like to work with charities full time.

How did you come up with the idea for mygoodpoints?

I spent a summer working in Uganda with Concern and saw first hand the devastation caused by AIDS, hunger and war. I managed to raise €3,000 by twisting a few family and friends arms and after I returned home the village sent me an email, four lines long thanking us. From the money they now had 100 goats for 100 people and 30 cows for 30 grandmothers with children. That email meant so much to me. My sister also did some fundraising work for two young orphans that were in very bad circumstances. When I returned two years later the orphans had bicycles and tools and two acres of land, they were making a profit and had fresh water on the land for 10 months of the year compared to walking for two hours for water previously. I was able to take a picture and bring it back to show my sister. There was technology there and I thought how incredible it would be if people who donate money to charity could actually see the effect that this money had on the people. I met Brendan Dowling (the co-founder) who worked in IT and he was also very excited about the possibility of donating cash directly using technology and seeing the results come back and the idea grew from there.

How does mygoodpoints work?

Mygoodpoints provides you with an online account - your own charity basket - where you can gather and collect all you unused loyalty points, and then donate these points directly as cash to fund the charity projects of your choice.

Then, when the money has been received and used to help those in need, you will receive thank you notes and photographs emailed back to you, to confirm that your support is making a real difference to those in need.

You might decide to gather those unused supermarket points along with your coffee shop points, your air-miles, your petrol points and any other retail points you have and put them all to good use, and help pay for an eye operation in rural Ethiopia, sponsor an orphan in school in Uganda or contribute towards a new heart machine in the Children's Hospital in Crumlin.
Why did you decide to enter the Vodafone World of Difference competition?

In 2008 we were still trying to get things off the ground. I was doing some consultancy work in IT to pay the bills but we were mainly focusing on the charity. The recession had hit and in early 2009 the consultancy work started to dry up and I was on the dole but still working 60 hours a week on the charity. As February rolled around I started to find myself in debt and was living from hand to mouth. I didn't know how much longer I could realistically work on the charity as I had bills and a mortgage. A friend told me about the Vodafone World of Difference Programme and I applied for it as a last attempt.

What was the competition process like?
You send off an initial application, then you have a phone interview and finally the panel interview. The pitch is very tough and rigorous, similar to a Dragon's Den scenario. The day before the pitch I visited a bank that were not at all impressed by the idea. Although the presentation was good I learnt that the message needed cleaning up so I went into the pitch well prepared. I learnt a lot and thought that even if I don't get the funding it has been a good process and learning experience.

What were your goals this year and have you achieved them?

I wanted to take up the position as CEO of the charity, which would enable me to fully concentrate on promoting - to raise capital and philanthropic support, secure additional corporate support for the initiative, partner with appropriate Irish and overseas charities and recruit Irish donors to the website. By the end of the year I hoped to have launched and operational in Ireland before expanding the coverage internationally.

Vodafone World of Difference gave the charity credibility and it enabled us to gather other corporate backing. We secured deals with Microsoft, Google and KPMC and are now connected with 22 major charities. I calculated that we have gotten over €1,000,000 worth of free technology and free time through technical support, graphic design, engineering etc.

We now have official charity status and we are the first online charity in Ireland.

Vodafone was a catalyst for all the things that have happened this year.

How has the experience transformed your life?

Last year mygoodpoints was a powerpoint presentation, this year it is a built platform and we will be doing our final tests this year.

The Vodafone World of Difference programme meant that I could focus on the charity and did not have to worry about how I was going to feed myself for the week.

What's next for mygoodpoints?
Our Vodafone funding runs out in June. It is still a tough market but there is a lot of goodwill out there.

We are testing the platform with the Vodafone staff in April and receiving feedback from them. They will be able to see exactly where their donations are going and see the difference it is making through feedback. Often people are disappointed wondering where their donation went. This way if you send a donation to Uganda then information will come back to you from Uganda showing you the difference your donation made. We hope to launch the platform sometime between mid-summer and September.

Once it is ready to go to market we can approach supermarkets, coffee shops, retailers etc

100% of your donation will go directly to where you want it to go. As a charity we will sustain ourselves outside of the donations. We would like to be a Ryanair meets Apple charity - the lowcost of Ryanair and the customer service and software capabilities of Apple. Good business practices and efficient technology.

I'm travelling to Uganda next Sunday to plug in our first local African charity. We will also be visiting the beach where Aids was first discovered 25 - 35 years ago were it had infected seven fishermen. Now 30 million people are dead from AIDS and 40 million people are living with AIDS.

For more information:

Fiona Sexton, from Ringsend, Dublin 4

Working with: Volunteer Centres Ireland

Volunteer Centres Ireland is an independent national charity that seeks to increase the extent, range and quality of volunteering in Ireland and which has a network of 20 local volunteer centres nationwide.

What is your background?

I worked in marketing and in particular online marketing for 13 years. I worked for the online recruitment agency monster and also in European marketing, rolling out campaigns.

Where did your interest in charity work begin?

I was always involved in fundraising and took part in a lot of charity runs and events. While living in London I raised money for a cycling trip to China. I also began literacy tutoring and my interest in volunteering grew from there.

Why did you want to get involved in Volunteer Centres Ireland?

I was interested in changing sectors and in volunteering but I still wanted to use my skills set. I couldn't find anything that matched my marketing experience. There were plenty of roles for committee members etc but nothing for any senior business positions. I got in touch with Yvonne Mc Kenna who is the CEO of Volunteer Centres Ireland and we began to talk about the lack of volunteering roles for more specific skills. Although the volunteers existed people were not or did not think of asking them for help in their organization. Yvonne told me about the Vodafone World of Difference programme and I put a plan together.

What does the charity do?

Volunteer Centres Ireland is the National volunteer centre. There are 20 volunteer centres in the network and the VCI is the representative body for this network. They help any not-for-profit organization to find volunteers and it is a recruitment service for anyone who wants to volunteer. There are 25,000 volunteers on the database and they deal with 6,000 not-for-profit organizations. There is an online service and also a walk in service through the centres. We deal with larger organizations such as the special Olympics and ISPCC and also smaller to medium organizations.

What is your role in the charity?

Project Manager for the "Bridging the Volunteering Gap" project where we examine the volunteering infrastructure in Ireland.

Last year 15,000 people volunteered and 50% - 60 % were placed. In the current climate people with different types of experience are available to volunteer and these are not been taped into. There are more volunteers with mid-senior level skills. The challenge is to create more suitable and appropriate roles for these people that will also benefit the organizations. In many cases the organizations do not think of asking for these skills set or do not realize that they are at their disposal, so it is also an awareness campaign. You might link a project manager to an organization on a short term basis for three weeks or three months or for a specific project, whether that's a fundraising event or brand design. We're focusing on using skills such as HR, designers, online, project managers and linking them with companies. We want organizations to MAKE THE ASK and realize that they have access to these people and skills. In this sense we're focusing on organizational development. In some cases there is too much reliance on one member of an organization so we are matching them with a business coach so that the company works even when they are not there. Also organizations are realizing that they might only need the help of an accountant for one month of a year; not for the entire year or they could use a senior HR person remotely so they can communicate via email and may never have to meet - we call this Virtual Volunteering.

How has the charity been affected since the recession?

Charities have had their funding cut but they are needed more than ever, so they need the help of volunteers to keep things running more than ever.

Are there more people getting involved in charity work?

There is a 70% increase in volunteering. A lot of people in different industries have lost their jobs and are looking to use their skills and expand their experience. Volunteering offers them this opportunity.

Why did you decide to enter the Vodafone World of Difference competition?

After I had spoken to Yvonne it was clear that there was a gap in the VCI placing certain skills with organisations. VCI is still a charity in its own right so if I could work for them through the World of Difference Programme we could afford to implement the plan I had drawn up.

What was the competition process like?

I went away and worked thoroughly on the application form. I had drawn up similar plans for other industries and businesses so I knew exactly what they needed to make it work. However I had no idea that I would win a place in the programme so I went into the panel interview quite calm. It was straightforward in that I knew how to implement the plan and how to apply it.

What were your goals this year and have you achieved them?

I took up the position of Project Manager for the "Bridging the Volunteering Gap" project and examined the volunteering infrastructure in Ireland - how do the people, processes and systems work. Through an audit of charities' needs and by analysing the variety of highly skilled volunteers available today, we can uncover the true potential and translate the findings into new roles and ideas for volunteer engagement and to develop a more responsive volunteering infrastructure.

The website will be launched just before I am due to finish. So far the feedback has been very positive and there is a great network there. Feedback is still required but so far everyone has been very enthusiastic and excited.

How has the experience transformed your life?

I was actively looking to change sectors and the Vodafone World of Difference has enabled me to do this and make a complete change in my life. I was able to come up with an idea and a plan and implement this with the funding from Vodafone.

For more information:

For more information on how to enter please visit:

My Good Points:
Volunteer Centres Ireland:

Vodafone Ireland Foundation:

Established in 2003, Vodafone Ireland Foundation (VIF) is the first corporate foundation of its kind in Ireland. As one of the 24 Vodafone Foundations globally, VIF is dedicated to providing assistance to groups across all segments of society and - through our network - making a real difference in the community.

Following our ethos "You make a difference. We make it easier", we are committed to encouraging innovative programmes which lead change in the community and leave lasting difference. Through funding a range of not-for profit partner organisations society we aim to make this a real possibility.

Since its launch in 2003, the Vodafone Ireland Foundation has provided in excess of €4.5 million in funding for a wide range of charitable projects throughout Ireland.Having collaborated with the not-for-profit organisations implementing these projects, VIF has developed a considered focus for its strategic funding, thus ensuring the maximum positive impact is impressed upon communities around Ireland.

Vodafone Ireland Foundation is delighted to announce its support funding for the following projects in 2009/2010:

1. Peter McVerry Trust
2. Temple Street Childrens University Hospital
3. Big Brother / Big Sister (Foróige)
5. Chernobyl Childrens Project International
6. Blue Box Creative Learning Centre
7. GAA
8. St Vincent de Paul

The two other winners from last year's programme:

Aideen Lyster (Coolmine Therapeutic Community)
Aideen spent the past year working with Coolmine Therapeutic Community, a therapeutic community model where clients live in small structured drug-free communities while receiving treatment and rehabilitation for addiction to drugs and alcohol. The goal is to encourage psychological and lifestyle changes to enable people to maintain a drug-free existence and the treatment approach is based on peer support and active contribution to the running of the community. Aideen has extensive experience in social work, education and training, and took up position as Education Coordinator/ Tutor and general Support Worker.

Hagan Bolger (Open Heart House)
Hagan took up the position of Communications Manager with Open Heart House which is a member-led organisation with a mission to empower and enhance the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS and its the only voluntary organisation of its kind in Ireland. The centre encourages a positive approach to living with HIV and AIDS through facilitating a supportive network of peers nationwide, in an environment of safety and confidentiality. Hagan's role will help the centre communicate to its members and stakeholders, and build awareness of the organisation to those suffering from HIV and AIDS and also enabled this organisation to educate and disseminate knowledge about HIV and AIDS to the general public.