‘Yellow army’ to return for first in-person Daffodil Day since pandemic

Irish Cancer Society raised close to €7m during Daffodil Day 2021

A "yellow army" of volunteers will return to the streets on Friday, for the first in-person Daffodil Day since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society.

The annual charity fundraiser, which sees volunteers selling pins and holding bucket collections across the country, has not taken place since 2019, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Averil Power, Irish Cancer Society chief executive said volunteers were "delighted" the event would be returning to normal on Friday.

The fundraising event usually brings in around €4 million for the charity, which it puts towards support services for people living with cancer, and funding research.


In the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic many charities expressed alarm over how restrictions would impact their ability to fundraiser, a crucial stream of income for the sector.

However, the Irish Cancer Society ended up taking in more donations last year than ever before. Close to €7 million was raised during Daffodil Day 2021, around €3 million of which was donated during a special RTÉ Late Late Show programme dedicated to the charity’s fundraising effort.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Power said the charity was delighted to have “our yellow army back in towns and villages” for this year’s Daffodil Day on March 25th.


The traditional event had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the outbreak of the pandemic, up-ending months of work, she said. “We went overnight from digital being part of what we do, to the only thing we could do, from a fundraising point of view. . .You just had to try things and see what worked,” she said.

The response from the public and the charity’s volunteers – during a nationwide lockdown – was uplifting. “People started doing virtual marathons for us, dips in freezing Atlantic water, running laps around their 2km,” Ms Power said.

The former Dáil candidate said the charity is “completely reliant” on fundraising income for its services, which include nursing care for cancer patients, counselling, as well as free transport to chemotherapy appointments.

Normally it would have up to 7,000 volunteers take part in the national fundraiser, but that number had been hit by Covid-19 absences, she said.

Despite the increase in cases of the virus, the charity was looking forward to “painting the town yellow” again for the first time in two years, she said.


Similarly, after two years of disruption Pieta House is planning for its annual Darkness Into Light walks to return to normal this May.

A spokesman for the charity said its fundraising income had been “sustained” during the pandemic, “through the generosity of our supporters and the corporate community”.

Similar to the Irish Cancer Society, the suicide prevention charity received a pandemic bump in fundraising income. The charity raised €7.3 million from Darkness into Light events last year, up from €5.3 million in 2019.

Deirdre Garvey, chief executive of The Wheel, the national charity association, said many larger charities with dedicated fundraising staff successfully "weathered the pandemic as a result of the loyalty of their donors and by expanding into online fundraising".

Smaller community-based groups who relied heavily on live events and face-to-face fundraising had not fared as well, she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times